The CFC-Ozone Issue: Progress on the Development of Alternatives to CFCs

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Science  06 Jul 1990:
Vol. 249, Issue 4964, pp. 31-35
DOI: 10.1126/science.249.4964.31


Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are now believed to be major contributors to the seasonal ozone depletion over the Antarctic continent. However, because they are so important to many aspects of Modern society, it would be irresponsible to immediately cease their production. The identification of suitable substitutes is difficult when issues such as toxicity, flammability, cost, environmental impact, and physical properties are considered. Several candidates that meet these criteria have been selected by the industry and significant research and development programs are under way to commercialize them. Unlike the simple, fully halogenated CFCs, which can only be made in the single step, there are many potentially viable routes to the alternatives, but these will require significant improvements in catalysis. Many other important issues such as materials compatibility, energy efficiency, the needs of developing countries, and the product life cycle of the alternatives need to be resolved before a timely transition to substitutes can be accomplished.

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