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Title: Response to comment on "Environmental fate of the next generation refrigerant 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoropropene (HFO-1234yf)

Here, the refrigerant 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoropropene (HFO-1234yf) has been developed for use in mobile air conditioning systems to replace 1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane (HFC-134a), which has a much greater global warming potential. If HFO-1234yf replaces the current refrigerant HFC-134a in mobile air conditioning systems as projected, high HFO-1234yf production volumes are anticipated and widespread handling will occur. At room temperature and atmospheric pressure, HFO-1234yf is a gas (Henry’s Law constant of 1 × 10 –3 M atm –1) with an aqueous solubility of about 200 ppm. HFO-1234yf leakages and emissions to the atmosphere have been estimated, and associated ecosystem effects in terms of ozone depletion and atmospheric trifluoroacetate formation were deemed insignificant. In 2013, the EPA ruled that HFO-1234yf should no longer be regulated as a volatile organic compound (VOC) under the Clean Air Act for the purpose of meeting the national ambient air quality standards for ozone. While the benefits of the new refrigerant for the atmosphere have been documented, very limited information about the fate of HFO-1234yf in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems is available. Im et al. explored the fate of 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoropropene (HFO-1234yf) in anoxic, aqueous batch reactors and concluded that rapid degradation in groundwater aquifers and freshwater sediments cannot be expected. Wallingtonmore » and Anderson argue that it is “incorrect to claim that this compound could enter groundwater or other aqueous systems at appreciable concentrations”. Further, Wallington and Anderson reason that HFO-1234yf contamination of natural water systems is unlikely because the current refrigerant HFC-134a has not been recognized as a groundwater pollutant. We agree that the majority of HFO-1234yf will be released to the atmosphere, and the atmosphere will not be a source for HFO-1234yf contamination of aquatic environments. However, we do not believe that HFO-1234yf physicochemical properties rule out possible groundwater contamination due to inappropriate handling and storage, as well as accidents during production, transportation, and use. Also, the meaning of “appreciable concentrations” is difficult to determine given the scarcity of long-term toxicological studies and the lack of science-based recommendations on maximum concentration and exposure limits. Since HFC-134a is not included in the EPA protocols commonly applied for groundwater VOC analysis, information about the prevalence of this compound in groundwater systems is vague. Halocarbons, including HFC-134a, have been used for groundwater dating indicating that pathways for these compounds into subsurface systems exist. Indeed, groundwater contamination with HFC-134a and CFC-113, both with comparable physicochemical properties than HFO-1234yf (Table 1), has been reported.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
  2. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  3. Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States); Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
AC05-00OR22725
Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Environmental Science and Technology
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 49; Journal Issue: 13; Journal ID: ISSN 0013-936X
Publisher:
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 42 ENGINEERING
OSTI Identifier:
1471951
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1265989

Im, Jeongdae, Walshe-Langford, Gillian E., Moon, Ji Won, and Loeffler, Frank E.. Response to comment on "Environmental fate of the next generation refrigerant 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoropropene (HFO-1234yf). United States: N. p., Web. doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b01970.
Im, Jeongdae, Walshe-Langford, Gillian E., Moon, Ji Won, & Loeffler, Frank E.. Response to comment on "Environmental fate of the next generation refrigerant 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoropropene (HFO-1234yf). United States. doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b01970.
Im, Jeongdae, Walshe-Langford, Gillian E., Moon, Ji Won, and Loeffler, Frank E.. 2015. "Response to comment on "Environmental fate of the next generation refrigerant 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoropropene (HFO-1234yf)". United States. doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b01970. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1471951.
@article{osti_1471951,
title = {Response to comment on "Environmental fate of the next generation refrigerant 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoropropene (HFO-1234yf)},
author = {Im, Jeongdae and Walshe-Langford, Gillian E. and Moon, Ji Won and Loeffler, Frank E.},
abstractNote = {Here, the refrigerant 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoropropene (HFO-1234yf) has been developed for use in mobile air conditioning systems to replace 1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane (HFC-134a), which has a much greater global warming potential. If HFO-1234yf replaces the current refrigerant HFC-134a in mobile air conditioning systems as projected, high HFO-1234yf production volumes are anticipated and widespread handling will occur. At room temperature and atmospheric pressure, HFO-1234yf is a gas (Henry’s Law constant of 1 × 10–3 M atm–1) with an aqueous solubility of about 200 ppm. HFO-1234yf leakages and emissions to the atmosphere have been estimated, and associated ecosystem effects in terms of ozone depletion and atmospheric trifluoroacetate formation were deemed insignificant. In 2013, the EPA ruled that HFO-1234yf should no longer be regulated as a volatile organic compound (VOC) under the Clean Air Act for the purpose of meeting the national ambient air quality standards for ozone. While the benefits of the new refrigerant for the atmosphere have been documented, very limited information about the fate of HFO-1234yf in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems is available. Im et al. explored the fate of 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoropropene (HFO-1234yf) in anoxic, aqueous batch reactors and concluded that rapid degradation in groundwater aquifers and freshwater sediments cannot be expected. Wallington and Anderson argue that it is “incorrect to claim that this compound could enter groundwater or other aqueous systems at appreciable concentrations”. Further, Wallington and Anderson reason that HFO-1234yf contamination of natural water systems is unlikely because the current refrigerant HFC-134a has not been recognized as a groundwater pollutant. We agree that the majority of HFO-1234yf will be released to the atmosphere, and the atmosphere will not be a source for HFO-1234yf contamination of aquatic environments. However, we do not believe that HFO-1234yf physicochemical properties rule out possible groundwater contamination due to inappropriate handling and storage, as well as accidents during production, transportation, and use. Also, the meaning of “appreciable concentrations” is difficult to determine given the scarcity of long-term toxicological studies and the lack of science-based recommendations on maximum concentration and exposure limits. Since HFC-134a is not included in the EPA protocols commonly applied for groundwater VOC analysis, information about the prevalence of this compound in groundwater systems is vague. Halocarbons, including HFC-134a, have been used for groundwater dating indicating that pathways for these compounds into subsurface systems exist. Indeed, groundwater contamination with HFC-134a and CFC-113, both with comparable physicochemical properties than HFO-1234yf (Table 1), has been reported.},
doi = {10.1021/acs.est.5b01970},
journal = {Environmental Science and Technology},
number = 13,
volume = 49,
place = {United States},
year = {2015},
month = {6}
}