Healthy Climate

ACC Members Contributions to Healthy Climate

Chemours Refrigerant Helps Reduce Global Warming Potential

Sustainability Challenge:

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and other chemical compounds in common refrigerants are known to have a negative effect on the environment and contribute to global warming.

Chemistry Solution:

Chemours’ line of hydrofluoro olefin (HFO)-based, low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants uses less energy and contributes to reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainability Benefit:

A transition from HFC-based refrigerant technologies to HFO-based, low-GWP alternatives over the next three years could help prevent up to 200 billion tons of CO2 emissions by 2050.

The Chemours Company’s breakthrough refrigerant, Opteon™, uses hydrofluoro olefin (HFO)-based refrigerant technology, which has very low global warming potential (GWP) and zero ozone depletion potential (ODP), as an alternative to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) for essential air conditioning and refrigeration technology.

A difference in chemistry makes a big difference in global warming potential. Opteon’s HFO refrigerant can have a GWP that can be 99 percent less than other refrigerants. HFO refrigerants also break down faster in the environment, while HFCs can persist in the atmosphere for years.

Chemours Video Still 2The benefits of HFO-based refrigerants like Opteon™ contribute to everyday living, from food preservation to keeping vehicles cool and comfortable, in an environmentally sustainable way. Chemours has estimated that, by the end of 2019, the replacement of legacy mobile refrigerants with HFO technology like Opteon™ will have resulted in a reduction of nearly 68 million tons of CO2, equivalent to taking approximately 15 million cars off the road. By the end of 2020, that number is expected to grow to 96 million tons, equivalent to approximately 21 million cars off the road.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization predicts that production of food needing refrigeration will need to increase by 70 percent globally to feed an additional 2.3 billion people by 2050. As companies around the world expand their use of sustainable refrigerants from cars to data centers to supermarkets and hospitals, the positive environmental and societal impact of Opteon™ low GWP refrigerants could grow exponentially.

According to the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, if the transition from HFC-based refrigerant technologies to HFO-based, low GWP alternatives continues over the next three years, it could prevent up to 200 billion tons of CO2 emissions by 2050. This one step alone could have a big environmental impact, potentially lowering the predictable global temperature rise by 0.5ºC by 2100.

Covestro Transforming Carbon Dioxide into Raw Material for Flexible Foam

Sustainability Challenge:

Non-renewable petrochemical feedstocks are used as a carbon source to produce high-performance polymers.

Chemistry Solution:

Technology developed by Covestro captures carbon dioxide from industrial sources and transforms it into a raw material for flexible foam.

Sustainability Benefit:

Alternative carbon sources for raw materials can lead to future advances in conserving nonrenewable petrochemical feedstocks.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the primary greenhouse gases emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere and a main factor of global warming. It also contains carbon, an important building block for chemicals. For nearly half a century, scientists have sought to capture CO2 and transform it from an inert pollutant into commercially viable products that can drive growth and innovation.

Scientists at Covestro have developed a breakthrough technology – a catalyst that makes it possible to harness waste CO2 and convert it into a precursor for flexible polyurethane foam.

In 2016, Covestro opened a production facility in Germany that sources waste CO2 gas from an adjacent power plant and uses it to manufacture a CO2-based polyol – branded cardyon® – to make flexible foam found in everyday products, like mattresses and furniture.

CardyonThe CO2 content in the cardyon® polyol grades is currently up to 20 percent. Not only is the resulting foam comparable to conventional foam, but the production footprint is actually lower, since less solvent and energy are required to produce cardyon®.

Currently, cardyon® polyol is commercially available on the European market. Covestro plans to expand its portfolio of CO2-based polyols for use in rigid and thermoplastic polyurethanes and coatings that can be used in a wide variety of industrial and consumer goods.

Cracking the catalytic barrier needed to convert CO2 into a raw material has opened a world of low-carbon, energy-saving possibilities. Covestro and its research partners are studying catalysis with other C1 molecules, like methane and carbon monoxide, to develop sustainable solutions for organic intermediates and polymeric materials.

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