PFTBA greenhouse gas has greater global warming potential than CO2

One molecule of the long-lived and highly radiative chemical has an effect equivalent to 7,100 molecules of CO2.
By Ananth Baliga  |  Dec. 9, 2013 at 5:31 PM
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Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Scientists have discovered a chemical that appears to be a long-lived greenhouse gas, and they suggest that it has greater potential to affect the climate than carbon dioxide (CO2).

Perfluorotributylamine, or PFTBA, is one of the most radiative chemicals scientists have found, breaking previous records.

Radiative efficiency is a measure of how effectively a molecule can affect climate, which, multiplied by its atmospheric concentration gives its total climate impact. For their comparison, University of Toronto researchers used the radiative efficiency of CO2 as a baseline.

"Calculated over a 100-year timeframe, a single molecule of PFTBA has the equivalent climate impact as 7,100 molecules of CO2," said Angela Hong an author of the study, published in Geophysical Research Letters.

PFTBA cannot be destroyed or removed from the lower atmosphere, and could persist for hundreds of years unless it rises to the upper atmosphere. The man-made chemical has been used since the mid-20th century as a heat transfer agent and in thermally and chemically stable liquids used in electronic testing.

[University of Toronto] [Geophysical Research Letters]

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