A recent Grist article shared a bit in some of the panic about NF3 and plasma TVs. If all the NF3 manufactured were released, it warns, it would have a warming effect equivalent to that of Austria.
It turns out that is mighty big “if,” one that Eli Rabett manages to blast into smithereens.
To begin with, most uses of NF3 are consumptive — etching and so on — whereby NF3 becomes something much less greenhouse intensive. The vast majority of NF3 produced is destroyed just by the process of using it. What about the rest? NF3 byproducts are extremely nasty, aside from greenhouse forcing potential. So in the course of complying with normal air pollution and health and safety laws most remaining NF3 and byproducts are destroyed too. Between .1% and 1% of NF3 produced is actually released.
Now NF3 is greenhouse gas, and should be regulated as such. But we should keep our perspective too. Plasma TVs won’t catch up to SUVs, carnivorous pets (e.g., dogs and cats), MacDonalds hamburgers, or junk mail as contributors to climate chaos any time soon.