Current and Future Emissions of Fluorinated Compounds in Germany

March 1997
Report on the Umweltbundesamt (German Federal Environmental Agency), UFOPLAN-No. 106 01 074/01
Winfried Schwarz
André Leisewitz

The fluorinated compounds sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), perfluorocarbons (CF4, C2F6) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are atmospheric trace gases with extremely high global warming potentials (GWP). The study examines for Germany the real emissions of these compounds in 1990-1995, and develops projections for the years up to 2020. These projections indicate that annual perfluorocarbon releases will drop between the years 1990 and 2000 from 335 t/34 t to 100 t/10 t due to automation measures at the main source (aluminium smelting). Sulphur hexafluoride emissions, however, will remain in the range between 200 and 300 t per annum until the year 2020. By far the largest emitters are car tyres and sound-insulation glazing, not electrical swithgear, the latter being relatively well sealed and linked to management and reprocessing concepts for used gas. As concerns hydrofluorocarbons, which have only been used since 1990 with the specific intention of substituting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), an increasing degree of CFC substitution in stationary and mobile refrigeration technology, in canned PUR foams and in asthma sprays must be expected to lead to steeply rising emissions to levels exceeding 9,700 t/a from the year 2007 onwards, if halogen-free alternatives are not used more strongly. Assuming these trends, the cumulative emissions of the stated fluorinated compounds will by the year 2020 correspond to a global warming impact of 25 million t CO2 (GWP time horizon: 100 years).