03 September 2012
Atmospheric chemists introduce climate solutions to minister
Refrigerant for automobile air conditioners and air purification might not sound like things able to curb global warming or ease the planet’s otherwise galloping use of energy. But that precisely these two things can actually have a large impact on the climate was the main item on offer when Climate, Energy and Building Minister Martin Lidegaard visited the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Chemistry on 30 August 2012.
Two climate solutions from the Department of Chemistry
Lidegaard was on whirlwind tour of the University of Copenhagen when the atmospheric chemistry professor, Ole John Nielsen met with the Minister. So he had just a few minutes to present the results achieved at the Department of Chemistry.
Fortunately the main points are quite simple to explain. Researchers at the Department of Chemistry have been involved in the development of more climate-friendly refrigerants. Also, atmospheric chemist Matthew Johnson has invented and patented a revolutionary method to purify air.
New refrigerants cause less climate change
Refrigerants first came to the attention of atmospheric chemists because they were destroying the ozone layer. They solved that problem, but the coolants were still powerfull greenhouse gasses, so chemists were tasked with developing a substance that would harm neither ozone nor climate.
The most recent refrigerant that the Copenhagen chemists have been involved with is labelled HFO-1234yf. It has been used in all new cars from the turn of the year 2011-2012. For every car using it the atmosphere will be spared the equivalent of one ton of CO2.
Clean air saves energy
The newly patented air purification solution is called CleanAir. The technology uses less energy than existing solutions and can also drive heating costs way down. Because the method can filter even the most toxic and volatile of organic compounds from indoor air, it can be deployed in industrial settings, in a factory for example, where great amounts of energy are required to cool, heat, purify or dehumidify fresh outside air. The University of Copenhagen has now entered a partnership with a private firm eager to make the CleanAir purification method available for use in industry, hospitals, airports and in the longer term, for the home.