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green and sustainable business

Archive for April 2011

Earth Day viewing: Nova’s Power Surge

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PBS’ production of Power Surge, aired on Nova Wednesday night, is an excellent companion as we settle in for Earth Day musings and strategies.

The show lays out the current status of climate change and what is doable on an individual and global basis. For example energy efficiency, while certainly not the total answer, will help tremendously. Take a look at the carbon footprint of the average U.S. family in a year–some 50 tons of CO2!

Remarkably, while there’s no glossing over that what we’ve done to the planet is alarming and dangerous and getting more so — the show has an upbeat and even optimistic message. It’s a solvable crisis because we have the technology and innovative ideas; we need the will for change.

Written by William DiBenedetto

April 22, 2011 at 2:00 am

Cool coolant fights global warming

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Soon your car’s AC might be really really cool, in a green way. The Environmental Protection Agency recently approved a new chemical that can drastically reduce the amount of harmful, ozone-depleting emissions from motor vehicle air conditioning systems.

The eco-friendly refrigerant uses a new chemical developed by Honeywell and DuPont—HFO-1234yf—that the agency and the companies say does not deplete the ozone layer. And when used appropriately, the chemical has a global warming potential that is 99.7 percent less than the current chemical (HFC–134a) used in most car air conditioners.

“It is homegrown innovative solutions like this that save lives and strengthen our economy.” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation in a recent EPA release.

EPA said its recently issued standards for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from light-duty motor vehicles “provide an opportunity for automakers to receive credit for adopting a chemical with less climate impact as a cost-effective way to meet the new standards.

“Using HFO-1234yf is one option available to automakers.”

Prior to HFC-134a, car air conditioners generally used CFC-12, a potent greenhouse gas and ozone-depleting substance.

The new chemical is the product of a joint manufacturing venture of Honeywell and DuPont. The venture was launched last May and several months later General Motors said it would introduce the refrigerant in 2013 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models.

The biggest benefit of HFO-1234yf is that it breaks down faster in the atmosphere than the currently used R-134a. On average, the R-134a refrigerant has an atmospheric life of more than 13 years, giving it a global warming potential (GWP) of more than 1,400. By comparison, the new refrigerant lingers in the atmosphere for only 11 days and has a GWP of 4, a 99.7 percent improvement. By the way GWP is a value used to compare different greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. The base measurement for GWP is relative to that of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Just in time for Earth Day, something cool to celebrate. Maybe there can be better living through chemicals, or at least better cooling.

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