The key difference between methane and fluorinated gases is that methane is a greenhouse gas that can be made artificially or forms naturally, whereas fluorinated gases are man-made greenhouse gases.
Both methane and fluorinated gases are greenhouse gases. The greenhouse effect describes the continuous rising of atmospheric heat due to the trapping of heat that comes from the sun. Greenhouse gases are the substances that can trap this heat.
What is Methane?
Methane is a major greenhouse gas which has the chemical formula CH4. The production and transportation of coal, natural gas, and oil are the major sources that allow methane gas to enter the atmosphere. Human activities such as leakages from natural gas systems and raising livestock also contribute to increasing the methane content in the atmosphere.
Moreover, methane forms in natural sources such as natural wetlands, natural processes in soil and chemical reactions in the atmosphere. When comparing it with carbon dioxide (which is the other major greenhouse gas), the lifetime of methane in the atmosphere is much shorter. However, methane gas is more efficient in trapping radiation, which increases the heat. Therefore, methane is comparatively more harmful than carbon dioxide.
What are Fluorinated Gases?
Fluorinated gases or F-gases are the most potent greenhouse gases emitted due to human activities. These are man-made compounds that can remain in the atmosphere for a long time period (even centuries). There are four major types of F-gases, including hydrofluorocarbon (HFC), perfluorocarbon (PFC), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and nitrogen fluoride (NF3). Among them, the most common and highly harmful F-gases are the hydrofluorocarbon gases. These gases contain hydrogen, fluorine and carbon atoms. The major applications of HFC gases are refrigerators, air-conditioning systems, heat pump equipment, and as blowing agents for foam. These F-gases are also released when using fire extinguishers, aerosol propellants, and solvents.
Next to HFC gases, perfluorocarbon gases are the second most common greenhouse gas. These molecules contain fluorine and carbon atoms. We use these gases mainly in electronic equipment, cosmetics, pharmaceutical industry, etc. In addition, these gases are also useful in refrigerators when mixed with some other gases. When considering sulfur hexafluoride, it is primarily used as an insulation gas. It is used in the production of magnesium and can also be found in high voltage switchgear. However, according to the Montreal Protocol, the use of these gases is now prohibited due to environmental considerations; these fluorinated gases can greatly damage the ozone layer.
What is the Difference Between Methane and Fluorinated Gases?
Methane and fluorinated gases are two major greenhouse gases. The key difference between methane and fluorinated gases is that methane is a greenhouse gas that can be made artificially or forms naturally, whereas fluorinated gases are man-made greenhouse gases. Furthermore, methane has a short lifetime in the atmosphere while fluorinated gasses have a very long lifetime in the atmosphere. In fact, fluorinated gases are the most potent of greenhouse gases.
Below infographic summarizes the difference between methane and fluorinated gases.
Summary – Methane vs Fluorinated Gases
Methane and fluorinated gases are the major greenhouse gases. The key difference between methane and fluorinated gases is that methane is a greenhouse gas that can be made artificially or forms naturally, whereas fluorinated gases are man-made greenhouse gases.
1. “Fluorinated Gases.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Feb. 2020, Available here.
1. “Gases-overview” By US Environmental Protection Agency – (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Apollo Beach power plant 01432” By User:Monkeyboy0076 – Self-photographed (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia