First Observations of the Fourth Generation Synthetic Halocarbons HFC-1234yf, HFC-1234ze(E), and HCFC-1233zd(E) in the Atmosphere

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Environmental Science & Technology, Volume 49, Issue 5, p.2703 - 2708 (2015)





Halogenated alkenes are a class of anthropogenic substances, which replace ozone-depleting substances and long-lived greenhouse gases in the foam-blowing, refrigeration, and solvent sectors. We report the first multiyear atmospheric measurements of the hydrofluorocarbons HFC-1234yf (2,3,3,3-tetrafluoroprop-1-ene, CF3CF═CH2), and HFC-1234ze(E) (E-1,3,3,3-tetrafluoroprop-1-ene trans-CF3CH═CHF), and the hydrochlorofluorocarbon HCFC-1233zd(E) (E-1-chloro-3,3,3-trifluoroprop-1-ene trans-CF3CH═CHCl) from the high altitude observatory at Jungfraujoch and from urban Dubendorf (Switzerland). When observations started in 2011 HFC-1234yf was undetectable at Jungfraujoch (mole fractions <0.003 ppt, parts-per-trillion, 10–12) but since then the percentage of measurements with detectable mole fractions has steadily increased to 4.5% in 2014. By contrast, in 2014 HFC-1234ze(E) was detectable in half of our samples at Jungfraujoch and in all samples at Dubendorf demonstrating the wide use of this compound within the air mass footprints of the stations. Our back trajectory analysis for the Jungfraujoch observations suggests high emission strength of HFC-1234ze(E) in the Belgium/Netherlands region. HCFC-1233zd(E) is present at very low mole fractions (typically <0.03 ppt) at both stations, and features pronounced seasonality and a general absence of pollution events during our 2013–2014 measurements. This is indicative of the presence of significant emissions from source locations outside the footprints of the two stations. Based on a simple one-box model calculation we estimate globally increasing HCFC-1233zd(E) emissions from 0.2 Gg yr–1 in 2013 to 0.5 Gg yr–1 for 2014.