Paul Blowers has developed a method for estimating global warming potentials for chemicals using only computational chemistry methods. This approach uses theoretical chemistry to predict reaction kinetics with hydroxyl radicals and infrared spectra of the compounds. This information is aggregated to produce global warming potential estimates without even needing to manufacture the chemicals for testing. This approach has the potential for screening new chemicals for climate change before they are even created in a lab. Current work is expanding the methodology, so it is robust and can be used on larger molecules of interest.
Paul has recently been evaluating whether banning HFCs will lead to less or larger total GHG equivalent emissions for refrigeration systems. For freezer units, similar to those in grocery stores, GHG emissions would be higher for total direct and indirect emissions (those do to energy consumption to run the refrigeration systems). For mobile air conditioners (MACs) on passenger vehicles, some replacement refrigerants would have lower and some higher. Future work will attempt to characterize the total impacts of whether banning HFCs for this application, among others, would lead to environmental improvement or not.