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Industry Experts: CO2 Worse Than Useless in Trapping Heat/Delaying Cooling

Written by John O'Sullivan (HT: Alan Siddons)

Does carbon dioxide have the physical properties of heat trapping/delayed cooling as alleged by climate scientists? Well, according to experiments conducted by experts in the ‘hard’ sciences at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory CO2 just doesn’t do what climate science says it does.


For three decades now academics have been warning governments and scaring the bejesus out of policymakers about the ‘dangerous’ warming properties of CO2 and other ‘greenhouse gases’ if we allow human emissions to build up in the atmosphere.

But in their study Berkeley laboratory test experts Reilly, Arasteh and Rubin revealed something truly remarkable when setting out to apply those assumed properties of carbon dioxide – enshrined in climate change theory – to create better performing insulated double-glazing window manufacture.

What was discovered was that under stringent lab conditions it can be shown that regular air delays/traps heat better than greenhouse gases such as CO2!

This important empirical data shows the opposite of one of the key axioms of consensus climate science theory: that carbon dioxide traps heat and/or delays cooling in the atmosphere. Instead, the Berkeley scientists’ rigorous tests designed to exploit a supposed known feature of ‘greenhouse gases’ actually discredits the very cornerstone of the accepted science of ‘greenhouse gas theory’ and man-made global warming.


What the scientists did: They took ‘greenhouse gases’ (SF6, CO2, NH3, and N2O) and some other gasses, put them between panes of glass and tested and measured their abilities to trap heat and/or inhibit heat loss.

Or, in more technical terms they tested, “the existing heat transfer model of multipane windows filled with gasses to include the effects of infrared absorption within the gasses.”

Berkeley’s lab experts Reilly, Arasteh and Rubin meticulously applied “a one-dimensional, finite-element, control-volume approach for calculating the heat transfer across a horizontal window filled with an infrared absorbing gas.”

If greenhouse gas theory is true and not just the computer modelers’ musings then what would be apparent would be “gas-fills for such windows [that] should have a low thermal conductivity and a high kinematic viscosity.”

Crucially, Reilly, Arasteh and Rubin ensured they tested for the coupled effects of conduction and radiation (not convection because climate science isn’t concerned with convection). What the techie trio turned up was an extensive body of experimental data on the heat transfer rates through windows filled with infrared absorbing gasses and heated from above (to minimize that unwanted convection).

After exhaustive experiments Berkeley’s brightest and best reported that “the effect of the infrared radiation properties of CO2 is unnoticeable.” And that infrared absorbing gasses “are not as effective as low-emittance coatings for reducing radiative heat transfer.”

In effect, the results for CO2 being a good trapper of heat/delayer of heat loss, showed a big fat zero. And that’s why you don’t see double glazing manufacturers eager to fill the voids between the glass panes of their windows with carbon dioxide.


But this discovery isn’t ‘new.’ Reilly, Arasteh and Rubin conducted this important work at the Applied Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley, California in 1989. Once again it provides another example of the wilful negligence of a powerful clique of government ‘scientists’ unwilling or incapable of digesting hard-won applied scientific knowledge.

By contrast, engineers and practitioners from the ‘hard’ sciences have long known that carbon dioxide only serves as a coolant in industry applications (e.g. with dry ice, pre- CFC era refrigeration). There is no known industrial application where carbon dioxide operates to trap heat or delay cooling.

But academia is a closed shop to applied sciences – it is a cloistered world of bookishness, pal review and mutual self-interest geared to winning their slice of lucrative government ‘research’ grants.

As in much of the ‘soft’ sciences practiced in academia there is little or no need to know two cents about how the real world works. “Who needs a PhD in Physics or Chemistry to do climate science when computer models are ‘right’ and the science is ‘settled’?” bemoans retired Analytical Chemist, Hans Schreuder (Principia Scientific International).

But it gets worse.

Contrary to consensus science beliefs carbon dioxide wasn’t so much ‘trapping’ or delaying heat in the system, it was very effectively losing it – and the wider the gap in the double-glazed panes the more the CO2 gas filler showed U-value energy loss (see graph below).

psi 2

So much so, the Berkeley lab results proved that “the gas, however, emits infrared radiation thus degrading the performance of the SF6-filled window.” In other words, putting a ‘greenhouse gas’ into double-glazing does the opposite of what double-glazed windows are supposed to do: retain/retard heat loss.

Indeed, the Berkeley Laboratory tests proved that:

“Not only do the absorbing gasses generally have low kinematic viscosities, but the infrared emission from the gas adversely affects the window performance….in fact, air outperforms SF6 [Sulfur hexafluoride – a greenhouse gas] at gap widths greater than 9 mm in a vertical window and the benefits from infrared absorption by SF6 have been negated by the magnitude of the convection.”

The Berkeley trio prove “Not only do the absorbing gasses generally have low kinematic viscosities, but the infrared emission from the gas adversely affects the window performance.” This study showed that, “For small vertical gap widths and for windows heated from above, where convection is negligible, our model agrees well with experimental data. For larger vertical gap widths, where energy savings from the use of infrared absorbing gasses may begin to accrue, convection effects will begin to take effect and negate the positive impact of going to larger gap widths.”

In other words, even the every-day ‘normal’ air we breathe delays/traps heat better than greenhouse gases such as CO2! And when the effect of convection (wind to you and me) is added to the thermal mix, cooling predominates.

Thus, whereby cooling in the atmosphere occurs by a mixture of radiation, conduction and convection it is convection (heat loss by movement of air) that is king; so pervasive and dominant is convection that heat transfer by radiation and conduction are easily overwhelmed by it in a gaseous environment (such as earth’s open atmosphere).

These facts are in line with those evidenced in 2011 in the ground-breaking work performed by Professor Nasif Nahle, Monterrey, Mexico [2]. Nahle showed that by application of standard gas equations any “trapping” effect by CO2 could last not a moment longer than a miniscule five milliseconds – that’s quicker than the blink of an eye to all you non-scientists.

Industry experts with PhD’s in thermodynamics have long been saying that CO2 is shown to do the opposite of what government-funded academics say it does. Even renowned experts like Dick Topping Director of Appliance Research (TIAX, LLC) are routinely ignored. Topping writes: “The use of CO2 as a refrigerant dates back more than a century, but it fell out of favor in the air-conditioning and refrigeration industry with the development of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the 1930s.” [3]

And as recently as 2009 applied scientists in Japan were showing how money is to be made exploiting CO2’s proven cooling properties. There Sanyo developed that country’s first commercially-viable CO2 refrigerant which they say (ironically) could “greatly contribute to the prevention of global warming.”[4]

In fact, nowhere will you find alarmist academics showing you a practical use of carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping agent.

But do we think the climate ‘experts’ in universities (paid to promote climate alarm over CO2 emissions) are soon going to admit their errors – will they ever bite the grant-giving government hand that feeds them and admit to such real-world truths? No chance.

[1] MAS. Reilly, D. Arasteh, and M. Rubin, ‘The Effects of Infrared Absorbing Gasses on Window Heat Transfer: A Comparison of Theory and Experiment,’ Applied Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley, California 94720; Published in Solar Energy Materials 20 (1990) pp. 277-288, North Holland, Elsevier Science Publishers B.V. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/6sn232sk

[2] Nahle, N. S., Determination of the Total Emissivity of a Mixture of Gases Containing 5% of Water Vapor and 0.039% of Carbon Dioxide at Overlapping Absorption Bands (2011), Scientific Research Division, Biology Cabinet Mexico.

[3] Topping R., Carbon Dioxide Refrigerant Makes a Comeback (2004) Appliancemagazine.com (accessed online: September 24, 2012)

[4] Sanyo Develops Japan’s First Co2 Refrigerant Direct Expansion Type Refrigeration System, www.gea-consulting.com (accessed online: September 24, 2012)