Nylon Production: An Unknown Source of Atmospheric Nitrous Oxide

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Science  22 Feb 1991:
Vol. 251, Issue 4996, pp. 932-934
DOI: 10.1126/science.251.4996.932


Nitrous oxide in the earth's atmosphere contributes to catalytic stratospheric ozone destruction and is also a greenhouse gas component. A precise budgetary accounting of N2O sources has remained elusive, and there is an apparent lack of source identification. One source of N2O is as a by-product in the manufacture of nylon, specifically in the preparation of adipic acid. Characterization of the reaction N2O stoichiometry and its isotopic composition with a simulated industrial adipic acid synthesis indicates that because of high rates of global adipic acid production, this N2O may account for ∼10 percent of the increase observed for atmospheric N2O.

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