Discover more from The Fluori-dated Newsletter
A digestible review of recent editions, including #wherethefgashides
Some weeks the newsletter feels like a big lift. The messages of support are welcome however, and helps me stick at it. I am also learning things as I dig deeper into some of the topics and I’ve got plenty lined up.
For those relatively new to the newsletter, every seventh I’ll take a slight pause and do a recap of what I’ve covered in the recent editions.
I like to start with #wherethefgashides. The less well-known uses and applications of refrigerants and f-gases. In many cases I’ve found the research genuinely surprising and it continues to highlight just how pervasive fluorinated chemicals are in our society.
So, here’s your summary. Clicking on the links should take you directly to the article.
Walking through a transport museum it was interesting to find some suprising applications for f-gases and refrigerants. Besides keeping people comfortable…
Sometimes the f-gases stare you in the face. The slippery, ‘easy clean’ coating on the shower glass – that’s another one
Undergoing an MRI for my dodgy knee I found another application. The medical imaging systems with refrigerant-based cooling
I never used to think too much about how my jacket was made waterproof – now I know and next time I’ll do more homework before buying. I urge you to do so also
Keeping those balls bouncy – that will be climate damaging f-gases!
There are some real rabbit holes here. When I uncover another f-gas application it inevitably leads to several more. No need to worry about me running out…
Keep in mind if you’re doing emissions (Scope 1 & 3) or other environmental impact reporting they might (will) come in handy one day!
For the more in-depth industry topics I’ve covered a variety below. There was one however, that I’ve been flinging around in my mind for a while. I’m likely to come back and reference it now and again so I encourage you to take a look at ‘The Morph’ and ‘Return to the Morph’ if you haven’t read those pieces already.
· This idea of ‘The Morph’ I think is interesting, just because I’ve seen it play out where I reside currently (France). If we do a good job decarbonising our electricity grids then this will become a much bigger topic of conversation. You can get up to speed with it here.
· The original Morph was simplified a little to make it digestible. There are more hidden f-gas emission sources in buildings that will also need to be tackled. I uncover those in ‘Return to the Morph’. Including the one that sits off most people’s radars – the building insulation filled with HFCs and other f-gases.
· Often when evaluating the performance of refrigerant systems, industry takes a simplified view. Like my MRI experience, you often need to analyse at a deeper level to understand the root probems. The data tools and methods exist but are not used nearly enough. Read more here.
· In my years doing energy assessments I came across equipment in all kinds of condition. I’d never seen condenser fins used for graffiti however. Another thing for facilities teams to watch out for…
· I like new heat pumps and want to see more of them. Just not ones filled with R32 refrigerant that we are going to have to clean up as waste in 10-15 years time. We have alternatives.
· If you are scratching your head wondering why there are different GWP (global warming potential) figures for the same refrigerants? I explain that one here.
I hope some of it has been enlightening, and as always, I genuinely welcome your comments and feedback.
One last point before I sign off. While I try and stay in the refrigerants and f-gas lanes, regular readers of this section may have noticed that I do occasionally stray. My defense; they aren’t always clearly demarked.
For example, HCFC-22 (R22) is still commonly used as refrigerant (even though it is ozone depleting). HCFC-22 is also used as a chemical feedstock in all manner of ‘forever chemicals’. Things like cosmetics, frying pans and burger wrapping. Hence I occassionally find myself swimming in the chemicals and PFAS lane (which is a bit like swimming through treacle).
On that note there was some big PFAS news this week. This will likely have some significant knock-on as some refrigerants (and their degradation products) fall under the PFAS classification. Although this somewhat depends where you live and who has lobbied your government. Keep an eye on this space; it’s just getting interesting.
Right, that’s all for the rewind and more to come next week,
p.s. Last week’s newsletter title track – Where your eyes don’t go – was from They Might be Giant’s album Lincoln. Remember safety first – conga second.
Fixed stuff here for newcomers
There is lots of news every week from the cooling industry and plenty of newsletters that cover it well. The intention is to keep this newsletter focused on the most prominent f-gases (fluorinated greenhouse gases), the most common of which are refrigerants and importantly their environmental impact. That’s the lane I’ve chosen - I’ll do my best to stick to it.
Below is the seven (formal) greenhouse gases that countries and companies should track, report and hopefully reduce.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
Nitrous Oxide (N2O)
Sulphur Hexafluoride (SF6)
Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3)
There is also the still circulating, ozone damaging chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and the ‘new-generation’ hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs).
Hopefully you can spot the pattern.
Emissions from f-gases and refrigerants have been the fastest growing greenhouse gases over the past decade (more than CO2 and methane - check out IPCC WG3 summary for policy makers). They are also classed as super pollutants given their outsized global warming and other environmental impacts.
Some useful permalinks
The scale of the climate challenge can often feel daunting. This piece helps me take a step back and understand where we need to focus first - recommend a read.
There are plenty of technology solutions available to address the cooling and refrigerant challenge. You can find many of them here
Beware when the same entities who have contributed to the current f-gas problem propose you new solutions… This is a good place to get up to speed.