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Freeze on refrigerants heats up search for replacements

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Marcel Carroll
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The world has agreed to begin phasing out hydrofluorocarbons HFCs , whose greenhouse effect is 10,000 as strong as carbon dioxide.

Nearly a year after the 197 signatories to the Montreal Protocol started work on an agreement covering HFCs, 170 countries have cut a binding accord to farewell the gases.

HFCs turn up in refrigerators, air conditioners, and are a popular alternative to halon in large-scale fire suppression systems such as are installed in data centres .

Its use as a replacement for chlorofluorocarbons CFCs ramped up after the Montreal Protocol came into effect in 1989, leading to the worldwide phase-out of the ozone-destroying gas.

Currently, HFC emissions are rising by 10 per cent annually.

The replacement chemicals, however, are a powerful greenhouse gas.

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Marcel Carroll
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