Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Nitrogen Trifluoride Scare

Thinkprogress again fails to deliver a trustworthy picture on climate change. Today they write:
In an upcoming issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters, NASA reports that “new research indicates a powerful greenhouse gas might be at least four times more prevalent than has been thought.” The level of nitrogen trifluoride — which “is thousands of times more effective at warming the Earth’s atmosphere than an equal mass of carbon dioxide” — has increased by a rate of 11 percent per year. Previously, “emissions of nitrogen trifluoride were thought to be so low the gas has not been considered a significant potential contributor to global warming.”
These are all true facts, and makes NF3 sound very scary. But what they don't tell you is that current NF3 emissions contribute only 0.15% of the total global warming effect of current manmade CO2 emissions.

UPDATE: The AGU issued a correction overnight. The correct figure for NF3's contribution is 0.04%.

1 comment:

hesslei said...

Nitrogen trifluoride is used in the plasma etching of silicon wafers. Nitrogen trifluoride is also used in hydrogen fluoride and deuterium fluoride lasers, which are types of chemical lasers. It is preferred to fluorine gas due to its convenient handling properties, reflecting its considerable stability. Skin contact with NF3 is not hazardous, and it is a relatively minor irritant to mucous membranes and eyes.

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