Global chemistry company and refrigerant producer Chemours has announced a project to significantly reduce emissions of HFC-23 at its Louisville, Kentucky (US) manufacturing site.
HFC-23 is a potent greenhouse gas with a 100-year global warming potential (GWP) of 12,400 – many times greater than most refrigerants used today. It is a by-product of producing R22, an ozone-depleting HCFC that is being phased out as a refrigerant. It is still used in ultra-low temperature applications such as refrigerants for vaccines, medical applications, and semiconductor manufacturing. It’s also manufactured as a non-emissive feedstock for fluoropolymers (plastic resins).
The Chemours project includes the design, custom-build and installation of proprietary technology to capture at least 99 per cent of HFC-23 process emissions from the Louisville site. According to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), over the past 10 years the facility has emitted around 2.7–5.15 million metric tonnes of CO2e each year in the co-production of HCFC-22 and HFC-23, and was responsible for 64 per cent of all HFC emissions reported to the US EPA by production facilities in 2019.
“We are pleased to have initiated this next piece of our emission control plan that will allow us to capture at least 99 per cent of HFC-23 process emissions and move us closer to meeting our overall goal of a 99 per cent or greater reduction in fluorinated emissions,” says Tim Byrd, Vice President, Operations, Advanced Performance Materials for Chemours.
He notes that the company has explored various options for HFC emissions control over the past few years in order to decide on a final solution that is both efficient and highly effective. One way of dealing with HFC-23 during the manufacturing process is by incinerating, although this involves a significant capital investment in some facilities.
Despite the new pledge, the EIA has slammed Chemours for not already being on top of the issue. It points out that the announcement comes more than five years after the company made a similar commitment to the Obama Administration in 2015 to control and eliminate by-product emissions of HFC-23 at production facilities worldwide.
“It is shameful that in 2021, a major multinational chemical company is unable or unwilling to control and contain its own chemical waste, when other companies, including in developing countries, have been doing so for years,” says EIA Climate Campaign Lead Avipsa Mahapatra.
“If Chemours is incapable of running this facility responsibly, it must immediately cease operations leading to these waste emissions.”
Chemours says it is “a proponent” of the Paris Climate Agreement, the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, and the recently passed bipartisan American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act that will begin the national phase-down of HFCs in the US.
To read the Chemours media release, click here.