New greenhouse gas: Powerful gas has unknown potential, major threat to climate

December 13, 2013 11:23 PM

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A new greenhouse gas has experts looking into the way this powerful gas might negatively impact the environment; although studies on the manmade chemical PFTBA are still beginning, it is said to have unknown potential and stand as a dangerous threat to climate. The recently discovered gas was found by University of Toronto chemists, and is believed to be able to exist in the air for thousands of years once released. The Star News first reported on this environmentally aware story this Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013.

The new greenhouse gas is called perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA), and it could pose real harm to Mother Earth in terms of climate change. According to the experts’ findings, one molecule of this powerful manmade chemical was over 7,000 times more effective at causing indirect climate change than a single molecule of a well-known gas, carbon dioxide, when examined through a 100-year timeframe.

Under this breaking research, it appears that this greenhouse gas has the potential to simply lurk in the atmosphere and cause serious damage over time.

“This highlights the unknown potential of what lives in the atmosphere,” said Angela Hong, a PhD student who helped research the new study, published in the Geophysical Research Letters late last month.

The potent discovery of this new greenhouse gas was made quite by accident — or at least on clever thinking rather than certain knowledge. Some chemist researchers became aware of a nearby bucket of PFTBA in a chemistry classroom earlier this 2013, and having been recently discussing gases and their relation to climate change in their studies, began talking about the chemical’s complex makeup.

“One of our colleagues guessed that the liquid could already exist in the air; it has multiple carbon-fluorine bonds, pictured as 27 capital “F”s in diagrams, that give it the unique ability to live in the atmosphere Despite the fact that the compound was so big, (PFTBA) still has a tendency to exist in the atmosphere,” added the student.

Although further investigation into the new and powerful threat this greenhouse gas might pose is being extensively reviewed, confirmed university professors and students involved in the project, they are now working on the hypothesis with caution in mind. Due to being in an active chemistry building and in close quarters of the PFTBA-filled bucket that started it all, it is possible that outside influences affected their initial conclusions.


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