Nitrogen trifluoride is a greenhouse has 17,200 more potent than carbon monoxide. (Taiyu Industrial Gas)

Nitrogen trifluoride is a greenhouse has 17,200 more potent than carbon monoxide. (Taiyu Industrial Gas)

UPDATED: B.C. seeks study on a particularly powerful greenhouse gas

Province wants info on nitrogen trifluoride, which is 17,000 times more potent than carbon monoxide

The province is spending up to $10,000 to see how much of a particular greenhouse gas is being emitted by businesses.

In a request for proposal issued earlier this month, the environment ministry says it’s looking to quantify emissions of nitrogen trifluoride, a colourless, odorless, nonflammable gas that’s used in the production of microelectronics, predominantly in flat-panel displays, such as TVs, and thin-film solar cells.

As a greenhouse gas, it’s 17,200 times more potent than carbon monoxide.

UBC atmospheric sciences professor Douw Steyn says he’s surprised.

“I didn’t know we had much of an electronic manufacturing sector,” said Steyn. The province has a booming tech sector, he added, but that’s largely software.

The study falls in line with Canada’s pledge to monitor nitrogen trifluoride as part of its climate change commitments to the United Nations, Steyn said, and when the results come in, staff will be able to put B.C. emissions in context with those from other provinces and other countries.

“The current measurements tell us that it’s predominantly coming from the northern hemisphere,” he said.

Nitrogen trifluoride emissions stay in the atmosphere for 750 years, he said, and depletes the ozone layer.

An environment ministry spokesperson told Black Press that the province has a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

Currently, the province does not measure nitrogen trifluoride emissions.

The $10,000 price tag will cover a look at the options for conducting the study, B.C.’s levels of emissions for various industries, the cost of reporting emissions for facilities, and technologies and practices for mitigating emissions.


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