Investigation of the Production of Trifluoroacetic Acid from Two Halocarbons, HFC-134a and HFO-1234yf and Its Fates Using a Global Three-Dimensional Chemical Transport Model

Rayne E T Holland, M. A. H. Khan, Isabel Driscoll, Rabi Chhantyal-Pun, Richard G. Derwent, Craig A. Taatjes, Andrew J Orr-Ewing, Carl J. Percival, Dudley E Shallcross*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Trifluoroacetic acid (TFA), a highly soluble and stable organic acid, is photochemically produced by certain anthropogenically emitted halocarbons such as HFC-134a and HFO-1234yf. Both these halocarbons are used as refrigerants in the automobile industry and the high global warming potential of HFC-134a has promoted regulation of its use. Industries are transitioning to the use of HFO-1234yf as a more environmentally friendly alternative. We investigated the environmental effects of this change and found a thirty-three-fold increase in the global burden of TFA from an annual value of 65 tonnes formed from the 2015 emissions of HFC-134a, to a value of 2200 tonnes formed from an equivalent emission of HFO-1234yf. The percentage increase in surface TFA concentrations resulting from the switch from HFC-134a to HFO-1234yf remains substantial with an increase of up to 250-fold across Europe. The increase in emissions greater than the current emission scenario of HFO-1234yf is likely to result in significant TFA burden as the atmosphere is not able to disperse and deposit relevant oxidation products. The Criegee intermediate initiated loss process of TFA reduces the surface level atmospheric lifetime of TFA by up to 5 days (from 8 days to 3 days) in tropical forested regions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)849 - 857
Number of pages9
JournalACS Earth and Space Chemistry
Issue number4
Early online date10 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the NERC (grants NE/K004905/1, NE/I014381/1 and NE/P013104/1), the Bristol ChemLabS, and the Primary Science Teaching Trust under whose auspices various aspects of this work were funded. C.J.P.?s work was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and was supported by the Upper Atmosphere Research and Tropospheric Chemistry Programs. C.A.T. contributed advice on Criegee intermediate kinetics and is supported by the Office of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences Office of Basic Energy Sciences, United States Department of Energy (USDOE). The Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory managed and operated by the National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., for the USDOE?s National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-NA0003525. This paper describes objective technical results and analysis. Any subjective views or opinions that might be expressed in the paper do not necessarily represent the views of the USDOE or the United States Government.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Chemical Society.


  • anthropogenic halocarbons
  • trifluoroacetic acid
  • atmospheric lifetime
  • global burden
  • Criegee intermediates


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