October 15, 2016: This story has been updated to include the agreement to an HFC phasedown amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
From October 8 to 14, Parties to the Montreal Protocol convened in Kigali, Rwanda and successfully negotiated a phase-down of compounds known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a greenhouse gas with a high global-warming-potential (GWP).
The Montreal Protocol is widely considered to be the most successful environmental treaty in history and has been ratified by all 197 United Nations member countries. Since it was formed in 1987, it has established schedules to phase out substances that deplete the ozone layer. Countries have been working for the past seven years to address the increased use of HFCs by amending the Protocol.
On October 15, representatives from all parties agreed to the historic amendment. In addition to this amendment, many countries—including the U.S. and members of the European Union—have already established their own regulatory efforts for limiting or phasing out HFCs in certain applications where alternatives are commercially available and cost-effective.
HFCs have many everyday applications. These include refrigerants to cool cars, appliances and buildings; foam-blowing agents that create cushioning and insulating foam; solvents used in manufacturing to clean and sanitize, and certain specialty propellants used in products like aerosols.
Honeywell Pioneers Low-Global-Warming Technology
Honeywell anticipated the need for low-GWP alternatives more than a decade ago. During the 2000s, Honeywell’s award-winning scientists worked tirelessly and invested significantly in R&D to create new compounds that had the lowest possible GWP, would provide similar or better performance to HFCs, and required little to no changes to existing equipment that utilized HFCs.
This product suite came to be known as the Solstice® family, a portfolio of reduced- and low-GWP materials based on Honeywell’s breakthrough hydrofluoro-olefin (HFO) technology.
When HFCs are released into the atmosphere, they trap warming greenhouse gases and take years, sometimes decades, to break down in the atmosphere—thus contributing to the overall warming of the planet. HFOs differ from HFCs by having a unique chemical bond that causes them to break down in a matter of days, ensuring that greenhouse gases do not remain stuck in the atmosphere for very long.
Given rising concerns about increasing global greenhouse gas emissions, Solstice products were designed to help companies replace HFCs and other high-GWP substances in dozens of everyday applications:
- Stationary, commercial and mobile refrigerants: These are a family of refrigerants that are used inside air conditioning systems for cars and trucks, chillers that cool large buildings and structures, commercial refrigeration systems such as those used by supermarkets, and vending machines.
- Liquid and gaseous blowing agents: These materials are used to create many types of foam, and determine the foam’s insulating or cushioning properties. The foam can then be used to do things like line walls and roofs, pad seats and armrests, and insulate temperature-sensitive shipping containers.
- Propellants: Honeywell’s Solstice Propellant is the only non-flammable, low-GWP propellant available today for specific aerosols. It is used in a variety of aerosol applications including personal and household care products, cleaners, insecticides, and pressure dusters.
- Solvents: Honeywell’s Performance Fluid is a cleaning solution that can be used on a variety of surfaces such as metal and plastic. It is also non-flammable.
Solstice Products Make a Global Impact
Worldwide adoption of Solstice products has resulted in the reduction of more than 31 million metric tons of greenhouse gases to date, equal to eliminating emissions from more than 6 million cars.
Honeywell estimates that increasing global adoption of Solstice products can reduce emissions by an equivalent of 475 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2025, the equivalent of removing 100 million cars from the road for one year.
Honeywell remains committed to creating solutions to help the world meet ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is currently in the middle of a $900 million investment program in R&D and new capacity to continue developing and supplying next-generation materials that have GWPs that are at least 99 percent lower than most technologies used today.