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Deposition and rainwater concentrations of trifluoroacetic acid in the United States from future HFO-1234yf emissions

Abstract

Currently, HFC-134a (1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane) is the most common refrigerant in automobile air conditioners. This high global warming potential substance (100 year GWP of 1370) will likely be phased out and replaced with HFO-1234yf (2,3,3,3-tetrafluoropropene) that has a 100 year GWP of 4. HFO-1234yf will be oxidized to produce trifluoroacetic acid (TFA) in clouds. TFA, a mildly toxic substance with detrimental effects on some aquatic organisms at high concentrations (≥100μgL−1), would be transported by rain to the surface and enter bodies of water. We investigated the dry and wet deposition of TFA from HFO-1234yf over the contiguous USA using the Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting model (ARW) with interactive chemical, aerosol, and cloud processes (WRF/Chem) model. Special focus was placed on emissions from three continental USA regions with different meteorological characteristics. WRF/Chem simulated meteorology, cloud processes, gas and aqueous phase chemistry, and dry and wet deposition between May and September 2006. The model reproduced well the multimonth total sulfate wet deposition (4% bias) and its spatial variability (r = 0.86) observed by the National Atmospheric Deposition Program. HFO-1234yf emissions were obtained by assuming the number of automobile air conditioners to remain unchanged, and substituting HFO-1234yf, mole-per-mole for HFC-134a. Our estimates of current HFC-134a emissions were in agreement with field data. Average TFA rainwater concentration was 0.89μgL−1, with peak values of 7.8μgL−1, for the May–September 2006 period over the contiguous USA. TFA rainwater concentrations over the dry western USA were often significantly higher, but wet-deposited TFA amounts remained relatively low at such locations.

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