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Posts Tagged ‘NF3’

4.5 times more NF3 in atmosphere than thought

Posted by feww on October 24, 2008

Scripps News Release
Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Potent Greenhouse Gas More Prevalent in Atmosphere than Previously Thought

NF3, a greenhouse gas used in manufacture of computer displays, flat panel televisions, microcircuits, solar panels is 17,000 times more powerful at warming the atmosphere than carbon dioxide

Scripps Institution of Oceanography/UC San Diego

Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), a powerful greenhouse gas, is about 4.5 times more prevalent in the atmosphere than previously thought, say researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

[A 3-d Space-filling model of nitrogen trifluoride. ]

Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), a potent greenhouse gas used in the plasma etching of silicon wafers, has a global warming potential (GWP) 17,000 times greater than CO2 over a 100 year period, and with an estimated atmospheric lifetime of about 750 years.

Atmospheric measurements of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) were made using new analytical techniques by a team at Scripps shows that the amount of the gas in the atmosphere in 2008 was about 5,400 metric tons, 4.5 times higher than previously thought,  and was increasing at about 11 percent per year.

Geochemistry professor Ray Weiss who lead the research team said: “Accurately measuring small amounts of NF3 in air has proven to be a very difficult experimental problem, and we are very pleased to have succeeded in this effort.”

The research will be published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) on October 31.

Previously, emissions of NF3 were considered too low to be a significant contributor to global warming and were therefore omitted from the Kyoto Protocol, the agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions signed by 182 countries in 1997.

Environmental Impact of NF3 Gas at Current levels

  • NF3 is about 17,000 times more effective a global warming agent than an equivalent mass of CO2.
  • Persists five times longer in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
  • [Fortunately] Contributes only about 0.04 percent [at its current application levels] to the overall global warming caused by the anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions.

Nitrogen trifluoride has been the industries’ preferred alternative to perfluorocarbons, also potent greenhouse gases, as it was thought industrial applications broke down about 98 percent of the NF3 and only about 2 percent of the gas escaped into the atmosphere.  (Source)

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