The Halocarbon Dilemma
THE COLD RUSH IS HEATING UP THE PLANET...
Halocarbons – The ubiquitous coolants
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) had been synonymous with coolants for most of the last century despite the harm they have caused to the planet’s atmosphere. After the Montreal Protocol identified them as the leading cause of ozone depletion in 1989, these gases were replaced by yet another group of halocarbons – HCFCs and HFCs. Currently, these gases serve a massive 83% of the world’s cooling needs.
A smouldering future
Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), although less potent than CFCs, have high global warming potentials and continue to affect the ozone layer. With the rising emissions of halocarbons and other green-house gases, studies predict that the earth will warm up 2 - 2.5 °C above the pre-industrial levels by 2100.
Efforts to abate
Initiatives are being taken and agreements are being signed globally to mitigate the impending climate catastrophe. Party to the Kigali Agreement and HCFC Phase Out Management Plans (HPMPs), more than 130 countries have put the halocarbons in a process of phase-out, to be replaced by greener coolants. These regulations alone can help avoid as much as 0.5 °C rise in global temperature this century.
But what about the coolants that already exist?
The phase-out activities will ensure that newer, greener technology replaces the halocarbon-based coolants. However, the existing reserves or ‘banks’ of these potentially polluting coolants still need to be taken care of. Once rendered obsolete, the HCFCs and HFCs will either leak into the atmosphere from dump yards, where our appliances go, or from banks – tons and tons of gases we don’t have any use for.
Borne out of multiple months of brainstorming and integrated efforts, Halocleen aims to build a sustainable and green solution to the halocarbon disposal problem. We are incorporating enzyme systems that can degrade most of these gases through a sequential anaerobic-aerobic pathway into the bio-industrial workhorse, Pseudomonas putida. To deliver our remedy to the world, we are designing a cost-efficient bioreactor. With Halocleen, we want to contribute towards preserving the environment for generations to come!
Read on to know more about our idea and our efforts to bring it to fruition.