Magazine article E Magazine

The Missing Gas

Magazine article E Magazine

The Missing Gas

Article excerpt

Nitrogen Trifluoride (N[F.sub.3]) has been termed the "missing greenhouse gas," with a global warming potential over 17,000 times greater than C[O.sub.2] in a hundred-year period. The research was published in June 2008 in Geophysical Research Letters from the American Geophysical Union. Professor Michael Prather and his colleagues are at the forefront of research on this little-known gas. The potency of N[F.sub.3] is 60% higher than previously published estimates. Despite the research, N[F.sub.3] is not listed among the greenhouse gases covered in the Kyoto Protocol's international climate change agreement. Over a dozen gases were left off the list in 1997 because they were not produced at a scale large enough to cause significant environmental harm.

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But N[F.sub.3] is used in chemical vapor deposition, a process involved in making LCD televisions, semiconductors and synthetic diamonds, so production of the gas has jumped in recent years--up to 4,000 tons this year--and is expected to double by next year. …

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