It's out of the ozone depletion frying pan and into the global warming fire, as the gas in your new refrigerator enters the atmosphere.
Most of the ozone-benign gases now used in refrigeration have an unwelcome side effect, says Dr Paul Fraser of the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research, because they are greenhouse gases contributing to global warming.
Happily, the global warming caused by the new breed of ozone-benign refrigerants constitutes only a small fraction of all global warming gases - and their presence can be carefully monitored and controlled.
In a paper to be delivered to the International Conference of the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH), which is to be held at the Sydney Convention Centre, Darling Harbour from 6 to 8 April. Dr Fraser says the lessons learned in replacing ozone-depleting refrigerants will help in monitoring and reducing the impact of their replacements on global warming.
Dr Fraser says refrigerants contribute only a very small component, about four per cent, of the total warming of all greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere.
"The vast majority of global warming gases comes from burning fossil fuel such as coal and oil and from some agricultural practices like clearing and burning large tracts of vegetation," says Dr Fraser.
"New technology enables us to track the new ozone-benign refrigerant gases from their infancy rather than well after their release into the atmosphere, as was the case with ozone-depleting CFCs," says Dr Fraser.
"The Kyoto Conference last December put in place a Protocol which has identified the new refrigerants as a component of total greenhouse gas emissions, which are to be reduced on a global basis," says Dr Fraser.
"These developments help the refrigeration and air conditioning industry by putting it on notice about the effects of refrigerants escaping into the atmosphere. When the effects of the old refrigerant gases on the atmosphere became known, the industry was at the forefront of efforts to tighten regulations to prevent gas escaping from refrigerators.
"These new practices will lessen the global warming impact of new refrigerants because they will help to minimise escape into the atmosphere.
"The refrigeration and air conditioning industry is well placed to ensure that its practices make it a good corporate citizen.
"The industry is playing its part in providing more energy-efficient products. We shouldn't feel guilty about increasing global warming every time we open the fridge or enjoy air conditioning," Dr Fraser says.
As well as working at the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research, Dr Fraser is a member of the Cooperative Research Centre for Southern Hemisphere Meteorology.
The Conference has the theme, Global Warming. Are You Ready for the Challenge? A number of other speakers will address the subject, including Robin Williams (ABC Science Editor), Annie Ilett (Director of Ozone Protection, Canberra), Nick Campbell (ICI UK) and Donald E. Holte (President, American Society of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers).
The conference is being held concurrently with ARBS '98--the largest exhibition of goods and services in the refrigeration, air conditioning and building services industry ever held in Australia. There will be more than 230 exhibits by Australian and overseas companies. A consortium of seven major industry organisations is running ARBS '98--and most of them will conduct conferences, seminars or other functions over the exhibition period.
Paul Fraser -- (03) 9239 4613 (b); (03) 9787 2161 (h);Conference phone: (02) 9282 6232
Paul Holper -- (03) 9239 4400 (b) 0419 894 427 (m) firstname.lastname@example.org
Noel Carrick (AIRAH) -- (03) 9885 6755
The above story is based on materials provided by CSIRO Australia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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