While at NOAA my research was directed by the inquiry of whether or not HFO-1234yf, a new compound being introduced into coolant system and replacing greenhouse gases HFC, is harmful to organic life. Using the computer program Matlab I was able to develop figures that represented the concentration of HFO-1234yf (HFO) in 12 different tower locations throughout the country. Comparing and contrasting concentrations of this HFO compound at each site led me to the question the possible harmful side effects this compound could bring to organic life due to the fact that concentration levels are increasing, with one factor being the implication that the EPA passed this compound for commercial use in 2011. My research was comprised of reviewing various journals and articles that delved into the same question. These articles described experiments, which involved dosing, mammals, fish, algae, plants, and soil with high and normal projected concentrations of the HFO compound in our environment, as well as, the trifluoroacetate (TFA) that the HFO compound breaks down into once it mixes into water vapor in the in the atmosphere, which, gets mixed into rain and ends up in our soil and water systems. My primary method of data extraction was interpreting the data sets and literature from articles. Also, with the help of my mentor and former professors Dr. Ben Miller, Biochemistry professor Dr. Kambiz Hamadani, and Biotechnology professor Dr. Matthew Escobar, I was able to more accurately interpret the information at hand. All in all, it doesn’t appear that HFO-1234yf has adverse effect on organic life at both normal and high concentrations. Furthermore, it does appear that when TFA forms and it ends up in our soil there does appear to be a biological sink that breaks down TFA into methane or other organic bi-products. Although the effects of TFA in regards to soil retention are unclear and require further testing the possible benefits of implementing HFO and replacing HFCs is a step in the right direction to alleviate the effects of ozone depleting agents and greenhouse gases.


Biodiversity | Biology | Biosecurity | Entomology | Forest Management | Other Forestry and Forest Sciences | Plant Sciences


Ben R. Miller

Lab site

National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Earth Systems Research Laboratory (NOAA ESRL)

Funding Acknowledgement

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The research was also made possible by the California State University STEM Teacher and Researcher Program, in partnership with Chevron (www.chevron.com), the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (www.marinesanctuary.org), National Oceanic Atmospheric Association in Boulder, Colorado. I would like to thank my Mentor Dr. Ben Miller, My STAR workshop leaders Seth Hornstein and Shealyn Malone Finally I would like to thank The STAR teaching research program for giving me the opportunity to do research, as well as, giving me the tools necessary to help me in my future teaching career.



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/star/546