Impacts of the degradation of 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoropropene into trifluoroacetic acid from its application in automobile air conditioners in China, the United States and Europe


Abstract HFO-1234yf (2,3,3,3-tetrafluoropropene) was proposed as a mobile air conditioners (MACs) refrigerant worldwide. However, its atmospheric degradation product is the highly soluble and phytotoxic trifluoroacetic acid (TFA), which persists in aquatic environments. We used a global 3-D chemical transport model to assess the potential environmental effects resulting from complete future conversion of all MACs to HFO-1234yf in China, the United States and Europe. The annual mean atmospheric concentrations of HFO-1234yf were 2.62, 2.20 and 2.73 pptv, and the mean deposition rates of TFA were 0.96, 0.45 and 0.52 kg km-2 yr-1, in three regions. Regional TFA deposition sources mainly came from emissions within the same region. Annual TFA deposition in the North Pole region was lower than the global average and mainly originated from European emissions. A potential doubling in the future HFO-1234yf emissions in China mainly affected the local TFA depositions. The TFA concentrations in rainwater were strongly affected by the regional precipitation rates. North Africa and the Middle East, regions with scant rainfall had, extremely high TFA concentrations. The rainwater concentrations of TFA during individual rain events can exceed the level considered to be safe, indicating substantial potential regional risks from future HFO-1234yf use.