Trifluoroiodomethane as a Precursor to High Global Warming Potential Climate Pollutants: Could the Transformation of Climatically Benign CF3I into Potent Greenhouse Gases Significantly Increase Refrigerant-Related Greenhouse Gas Emissions?
The transition away from the production and consumption of high global warming potential (GWP) hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the 2016 Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer has prompted air conditioning, refrigeration, and heat pump equipment manufacturers to seek alternative refrigerants with lower direct climate impacts. Additional factors affecting alternative refrigerant choice include safety (i.e., flammability and toxicity), environmental, and thermodynamic constraints. At the same time, manufacturers are incentivized to seek refrigerants with higher energy efficiency, which saves on electricity costs and reduces indirect greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation. The life cycle climate performance (LCCP) metric is commonly used to assess the combined direct and indirect climate impacts of refrigerant-use equipment. Here, we consider an additional impact on climate performance: the degradation of refrigerant in equipment, i.e., the direct climate impacts of high-GWP byproducts that can form as the result of adding trifluoroiodomethane (CF3I) to refrigerant blends to reduce flammability. Such a production of high-GWP gases could change the acceptability of CF3I-containing refrigerants. Further, it highlights the need to understand refrigerant degradation within equipment in calculations of the environmental acceptability of new cooling technology.