]]]]]]]]]]]   DOUBTS RAISED ON SUBSTITUTES FOR CFCs     [[[[[[[[[
        Problems Abound in Development, Use as Ban Looms 
                        By Amal Kumar Naj
            Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal
      (From The Wall Street Journal, 6 March 1989, p. B4:3)

          [Kindly uploaded by Freeman 10602PANC]

  [Note by 10602PANC:
   That CFCs are harmful to the ozone is not yet settled science,
though this article,  like most journalistic  articles about CFCs
and ozone, assumes that  it is. For more,  see AtE Jan (pp. 3-4),
Sep  (p.1:1), Oct  (p.3:2), Nov  (p.3:2)  1987; Jan  (p.4:2), Feb
(p.2:1), Jul (pp.1:1-2:1; correction in Dec, p.4:1), Nov (p.1:1),
Dec (p.4:1) 1988; Feb (p.4:2), Mar (p.3:2) 1989.]

   As  Western  countries   agree  to  speed   the  phase-out  of
ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons, users and makers are raising
serious doubts about substitutes for these chemicals, which allow
safe  and efficient  applications  ranging from  refrigerators to
aerosol spay cans.
   The  substances  are  being  rushed  to  market,  prompted  by
international  efforts  to  ban  production  of  all  CFCs.  Last
Friday,  President Bush  aligned the  U.S.  with the  12 European
Community member nations, which agreed to  a ban by the year 2000
-- sooner than timetables set in previous international treaties.
   The  latest  agreement  puts even  more  pressure  on chemical
companies to  find substitutes, which  can take  several years to
develop  and  many  more  years   until  users  can  adapt  them.
Yesterday, Du Pont Co., the largest U.S. maker of CFCs, announced
two possible substitutes for CFC-113, which is used as a cleaning
agent  mainly  in  the  electronics  industry.   Cleaning  agents
account for one-fifth of all CFCs.
   While DuPont  and others  have announced  substitute chemicals
for the whole range of CFCs, problems abound in using them.
   General  Motors   Corp.  has  considered   and  abandoned  two
substitutes to replace the CFC that  is used as a coolant in auto
air  conditioners.   Another  substitute,  which  GM  believes is
promising,  will   require  the   auto  maker   to  redesign  the
air-conditioning system -- and probably its cars, as well -- at a
cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.
   Northern  Telecom Ltd.  of  Canada is  replacing  equipment in
several of its plants with  newly designed systems that use water
rather  than  CFCs  to  clean  electronic  circuit  boards.   And
American Telephone and  Telegraph Co. has  developed a technology
that  simply  eliminates the  cleaning  process  in circuit-board
   The lack of appropriate substitutes has raised the prospect of
sweeping changes for industry, as well as in daily life: CFCs are
pervasive  in  the   U.S.  economy,  contained   in  100  million
refrigerators,  90 million  cars  and trucks,  40,000 supermarket
display cases, and 100,000  commercial building air conditioners.
Du  Pont  estimates that  banning  CFCs would  render  useless or
require altering capital equipment valued  at $135 billion in the
   While the CFC  substituted are believed to  be harmless to the
Earth's ozone layer,  they are either toxic  to humans or corrode
the metal machinery in  which they must work,  or they are simply
inefficient  coolants.   Some  are  potentially  explosive.  CFCs
haven't any of  these characteristics.  Their  problem is that in
the  stratosphere,  the chlorine  atoms  in the  CFCs  break down
ozone,  which  protects the  Earth  from the  harmful  effects of
excess ultraviolet rays from the sun, which can cause skin cancer
and damage crops.
   The EC's accord on  a ban by 2000  came as a surprise, because
under an international treaty concluded in Montreal in late 1987,
CFC production would only be halved by July 1998.  President Bush
said the U.S.  would meet the  stricter schedule, provided ``safe
substitutes are available.''
   This  qualification underscores  the problems  associated with
replacing the  chemicals with  successful substitutes.   ``It's a
very optimistic goal,''  Charles McCain, alternatives development
manager  at  Du Pont,  said.   ``It's  going to  be  difficult to
develop substitutes by the turn of the century.''
   Even as Du Pont announced its latest two substitutes, rounding
out its lineup of potential replacements for all CFCs, Mr. McCain
acknowledged these  products' drawbacks.   One would  require the
users to buy new machines, and the other is flammable.
   Such  concerns are  what prompted  Northern Telecom  to retool
some plants to  use water for  cleaning circuit boards.  Margaret
Kerr, vice president, environment, health and safety, at Northern
Telecom,  said the  company tried  a  substitute made  by another
company  and is  similar to  that  produced by  Du Pont,  but the
solvent was flammable at high pressure.
   For  autos, some  of the  substitutes for  CFC-12 used  in air
conditioning  are 134a  and HCFC-22,  and  a three-part  blend of
these  two and  142b.  They  are being  marketed variously  by Du
Pont, Allied-Signal Inc. and  Imperial Chemical Industries PLC of
Britain among  others.  A  big problem  with HCFC-22  is that its
molecules are small  and can easily  leak out of air-conditioning
hoses and other parts.   To use this substitute,  GM will have to
develop a new air-conditioning unit ``from scratch,'' said Gerald
Stofflet, assistant  director, automotive  emission control, with
GM's environmental activities staff.  The 142b-blend has the same
characteristics  as HCFC-22  with the  added  problem that  it is
   At GM, where one of  its own research scientists invented CFCs
about 60 years ago,  the company is testing  134a as a substitute
coolant and hopes  to use it in  some autos by  1993 or 1994, Mr.
Stofflet  said.  But  to  use 134a,  GM  will require  an all-new
lubricant to  be mixed  with the  refrigerant.  Mr.  McCain of Du
Pont,  one  of  the  several  companies  that  are  marketing the
substitute, said, ``Nobody  has developed a  lubricant that works
in the entire  temperature range, low temperatures  to as high as
90 degrees.''
   To   accommodate    134a,   which    has   different   cooling
characteristics than the CFC-12 it would replace, GM will have to
develop  a  larger  evaporator  and  condenser  and  redesign the
compressor on its air conditioners.   This will mean changes in a
car's grill area  and will take space  in the engine compartment,
which already is jammed with accessories and various controls and
exhaust systems.  ``It isn't changing  just one piece,'' GM's Mr.
Stofflet said.  ``It will ripple through the whole car.''
   ``Hopefully, we  can do  all this  without squeezing  down the
passenger compartment,'' he said.   ``But fuel economy and design
may have to be compromised to make this refrigerant work.''
   CFC-11 is used in  big commercial refrigerators and insulating
foam,  which has  uses including  housing.  Chemical  makers have
created substitutes such  as HCFC-123 and  HCFC-141b; these still
have chlorine  atoms but chemists  have inserted  hydrogen in the
CFC molecule  so that these  altered chemicals break  down in the
lower atmosphere before they reach the ozone layer.  But HCFC-123
attacks the inside  wall of the  refrigerator, causing corrosion,
and HCFC-141b is  explosive.  Neither has  good insulating value,
and  their  toxicities  haven't been  determined,  Du  Pont's Mr.
McCain said.

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