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Technical Articles

Technical Articles

Time for Change: New Products Reduce your Carbon Footprint and Tax

Tags: Maintenance and Service Aids, Environment

At the pinnacle of environmental concern is the emission of greenhouse gases and their immediate and long term effects on our planet. Over the years, many changes have taken place to ensure the products we use do not have a detrimental effect on the environment. With governments from around the world combining their efforts, legislations such as the Montreal and Kyoto Protocols have had an enormous impact; as well as significantly reducing environmentally hazardous pollutants they have also altered the way we think and work.

Regulation EC No 846/2006 addresses the emissions of hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride, collectively known as fluorinated greenhouse gases (‘F-gases’). These gases are man-made chemicals used in a variety of applications as refrigerants, foam-blowing agents, aerosol propellants and insulation gases in electrical equipment. Globally, the use of fluorinated gases is growing rapidly due to the increased use of products and equipment relying upon them.

The Regulation went into force in July 2006 and at the end of 2010 had achieved a reduction in emissions of F-gases equivalent to 3 million metric tonnes CO2 eq1. In terms of aerosol products, restrictions were put in place banning the use of high GWP (Global Warming Potential) propellants in novelty applications and single component polyurethane foams; prior to this legislation, such products typically used a non-flammable hydrofluorocarbon material, HFC-134a. This product continues to be used in technical applications where a flammable alternative is deemed unsafe for use, however.

EADH product in use

HFC-134a has a relatively high GWP of 1430 but combined with an ozone depletion potential (ODP) of zero and extremely low photochemical reactivity. When initially introduced it offered greatly reduced environmental impact when compared to CFC and HCFC propellants, which are now banned. As a non-flammable product, it also provided a safer option in applications, such as technical air dusters and freezer sprays, where a flammable material posed great risks to the operator. With the continuing drive towards technologies with minimal impact on global warming, it has been predicted that avoiding the use of F-gases has the highest potential to reduce emissions, thus highlighting the need to now readdress the use of HFC-134a2.

The F-gas Regulations have placed many restrictions in place and under Council Decision 2002/358/EC, resulted in the adoption of national penalties in a few Member States. The Commission also authorised more stringent provisions to be maintained in Denmark and Austria until December 2012. Such decisions have resulted in carbon taxes on HFC products, making their use extremely expensive in certain countries, particularly the Scandinavian territories where the taxes imposed on HFC-134a range from €28-36/kg. In other territories, such as Switzerland, HFC-134a is banned.

Table 1 – Carbon Tax on HFCs
CountryPropellant used in EADH and FREHHFC-134a
Norway Exempt 35.61 €/Kg
Sweden1 Exempt 31.50 €/Kg
Denmark Exemption Requested 28.82 €/Kg
Poland Exempt 1.00 €/Kg
Slovenia3 Exempt 6.50 €/Kg
Estonia Exempt
Australia2 Exempt 24.17 €/Kg
Austria Exempt Banned – Use extended until end 2012
Switzerland Exempt Banned in Aerosols

1 Under final discussion in Parliament. 2 23 AUD/mT of CO2 from 1st July 2012 – Fixed increments of 2.5% per year, then market price as of 1st July 2015 3 Only for refrigerants NB: All taxes can be adjusted each year, re-valuing the CO2 emissions (based on GWP) and assigning a higher tax.

Technical air dusters and freezer sprays are amongst some of the aerosol products requiring a propellant that is safe in use with minimal environmental impact; HFC-134a to date has been the only propellant to meet both criteria. As a responsible and innovative manufacturer of formulated chemicals for the electronics industry, Electrolube ensure their extensive product range is kept up to date with the latest technologies and are therefore proud to announce a new range of air duster and freezer spray products, replacing HFC-134a.

Electrolube's non-flammable EADH Air Duster, helps to remove all dust and airborne contamination from fragile or inaccessible areas on electrical and electronic equipment to maintain parts efficiently and quickly.

Electrolube's FREH Freezer is a non-flammable, non-corrosive refrigerant used as a safe and quick way of cooling small electronic and electrical components, lowering temperatures to at least -50°C in just seconds. The product has also been developed to detect faulty soldered joints and overheating parts. FREH also helps to eliminate the time consuming method of ‘dry joint location’, which involves measuring electrical resistance at each joint in a faulty circuit.

FREH product in use

Electrolube EADH and FREH utilise a new propellant technology with seemingly endless benefits. Recently classified as a non-VOC by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Solstice™ propellant is classified as non-flammable and is REACH registered, on the SNAP List of Acceptable Substitutes for Aerosol Applications and is also present on the TSCA inventory without restrictions. The product has exceptionally low ratings in terms of its environmental impact, exhibiting a GWP of less than 6 and minimal MIR and POCP values, illustrating that it does not contribute in any significant way to tropospheric ozone generation. Once released into the atmosphere, the new propellant has a measured atmospheric lifetime of two weeks compared to fourteen years for HFC-134a. As well as a significant reduction in CO2 emissions, customers also get the benefit of 20% more blasts per can.

Table 2 – Comparison of flammability, GWP, MIR and POCP values for various aerosol propellants
PropertySolstice™ PropellantHFC-134aHFC-152aDMEPropaneIsobutane
GWP (vs. CO2, 100 year ITH) 6 1430 124 <15 <15 <15
Photochemical Reactivity (MIR g O3/g VOC) 0.09 0.0007 0.0175 0.93 0.57 1.23
Photochemical Ozone Creation Potential (POCP) 6.4 0.1 1 17.4 17.6 30.7
Flammability Non-Flammable Non-Flammable Flammable Flammable Flammable Flammable

The benefits of the new propellant even outweigh standard hydrocarbon materials (flammable substances used throughout the aerosol industry to propel a variety of materials). The result is a huge leap forward in aerosol technology and the change from HFC-134a Worldwide could save more than 14 million metric tons per year of CO2 equivalent emissions, comparable to eliminating carbon dioxide emissions from more than 2.5 million cars every year. In terms of air dusters and refrigerant sprays alone, replacing one 200ml standard can of duster containing HFC-134a with the new EADH results in a remarkable reduction of CO2 emissions of 347.5Kg, the equivalent of flying 1632 air miles (3021 Km).

Table 3 – Representative Savings of utilising EADH and FREH
ProductRRP (€)Cost of 5 Units + Tax (€)Average Saving
    Norway Sweden Denmark Australia  
200ml HFC-134a Airduster 12 95.61 91.50 88.82 84.17
200ml EADH 16 80 €10/5 Units
The use of new products EADH and FREH therefore offer an 11% price reduction overall once the carbon taxes are taken into account.

Finally, in addition to the environmental and performance benefits as well as safety in use, the new propellant is also exempt from a number of carbon taxes imposed on HFC products. Each Member State has set their own tax and in some cases, such as Austria and Switzerland, they have banned the use of HFC-134a altogether; as shown in table 3, the use of EADH and FREH in place of standard HFC-134a products represents an average 11% price reduction when considering the carbon taxes.The introduction of new technologies, such as Electrolube’s EADH and FREH provide the end-user with a cost-effective, safe and environmentally friendly alternative. Available now, these products offer a sustainable solution for the future; with the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ground level ozone, these new product introductions once again illustrate Electrolube’s relentless drive towards a greener future.

  1. European Commision, 2011, Measuring the Effectiveness and Efficiency of the Regulation,On the application, effects and adequacy of the Regulation on certain fluorinated greenhouse gases (Regulation (EC) No 842/2006) - COM(2011) 581 final, Brussels
  2. European Commision, 2011, Potential Options to Further Reduce F-Gas Emissions,On the application, effects and adequacy of the Regulation on certain fluorinated greenhouse gases (Regulation (EC) No 842/2006) - COM(2011) 581 final, Brussels
  3. Data used throughout taken from Solstice™ test data and literature
  4. Values for GWP taken from IPCC 4th Report (2007)

Author: Jade Bridges European Technical Support Specialist Electrolube Ltd

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