Friday, September 07, 2018

Protection for the Ozone Layer [and from a Greenhouse Gas]: Sugar Molecules Bind Harmful CFCs

Ozone Layer (Credit: NASA) Click to Enlarge.
Researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and Aschaffenburg University of Applied Sciences have managed to make a breakthrough when it comes to dealing with the extremely ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbon Freon 11.  Their findings could make a major contribution to protecting the endangered ozone layer.

Freon 11 is a chlorofluorocarbon (CFC).  These substances were previously used, among other things, as coolants in refrigerators and as foaming agents for polyurethane foams.  In the 1970s scientists realized that CFCs were damaging the protective ozone layer in the upper atmosphere and were also responsible for the appearance of the ozone hole.  In addition, Freon 11 is 4,750 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, additionally contributing to global warming.

Although the Montreal Protocol banned the production and trade of this CFC in the late 1980s, it is still released today when refrigerators are recycled and is even traded on the black market.  The ozone-depleting substance has also recently been the subject of repeated scientific and media attention.  A study published in the journal Nature reported an alarming recurrence and a sharp increase in the global release of Freon 11, which the authors were able to attribute to extensive illegal production and use of this substance in Chinese polyurethane foam factories.  Being able to effectively adsorb and detect Freon 11 at an early stage, it would seem, is thus more important than ever.  "If we can learn to safely handle this environmentally harmful substance, it would be not only of great scientific interest but also, and above all, a matter of worldwide benefit," emphasized Professor Siegfried Waldvogel of JGU, corresponding author of the study.

Read more at Protection for the Ozone Layer: Sugar Molecules Bind Harmful CFCs

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