NHL’s partnership with Chemical Company leaves environmental watchdogs behind


The NHL’s sustainability message now highlights Chemours chemicals, but it wasn’t always so. A “Greener Rinks” issued by the league infographics on pre-2018 refrigeration systems endorses ammonia and carbon dioxide as natural refrigerants, claiming that ammonia refrigeration systems have “markedly ozone-depleting and global warming potential. lower ”than HFCs and a predecessor, hydrochlorofluorocarbons or HCFCs.

Matthew Rigby, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Bristol in England, said the HFC refrigerants currently marketed by the NHL “weren’t the worst”, especially when compared to compounds commonly used in arenas around the world. pass. “They are fairly non-toxic and do not deplete the ozone layer,” he said. “So obviously it’s much more preferable, but they still have an impact on the climate. “

The main concern with ice rink refrigeration and similar systems is that they tend to be very tight, said Alex Hillbrand, an HFC expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a non-profit environmental group. “This system has a bunch of connections, like metal-to-metal joints, that can leak,” he said. “The cooler vibrates considerably during operation. And the vibrations over time cause small gaps to form.

Refrigerants could also escape when these systems are finally phased out, Hillbrand said, making it important to have programs in place to properly capture, collect and incinerate the gas.

Most scientists look at how much a substance warms the planet over 100 years to understand its effect on the environment, known as its global warming potential. Although the Environmental Investigation Agency and Chemours differ slightly on the numbers, they largely agree that the first of two refrigerants marketed as Opteon warms the atmosphere about 600 times more than the same mass of carbon dioxide over a period of time. 100 years old; the second heats the atmosphere more than 1,200 times more.

The global warming potential of ammonia is zero.

“You keep the installations away from the ammonia,” Hillbrand said. “It’s a step in the wrong direction.”

Chemours argues that Opteon is primarily used to replace the more harmful chemicals in older ice-cooling systems and that it reduces the global warming potential of these systems by 20 to 80 percent. Sueta, the spokesperson for the company, said Opteon is profitable for rink operators and that while ammonia has no global warming potential, its production requires the use of fossil fuels.


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