back to article 'HD TV gas' 17,000 times worse for planet than CO2, claims boffin

LCD TVs, praised as being greener than old-style tellies because they consume much less power, may actually be speeding climate change, a chemical expert has warned. Michael Prather of the University of California at Irvine has completed a study which claims that atmospheric quantities of the gas Nitrogen Trifluoride (NF3) are …


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  1. alphaxion


    I thought dihydrogen monoxide was the number one GHG... tho I know this is by volume and not by effeciency.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This NF3 can't be bad it isn't CO2 and as we all know (well acording to the carbon cult anyway) all we should worry about is CO2 (not Methane, Sulphur Dioxide, this NF3 or well anything but CO2.) And these new TV's mean less CO2, who cares about your NF3? Not the cult that's for sure.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    shhh shouldn't be shouting about this stuff

    Your only gonna get the old Cost effective labour trying tax us on HD tv now lol

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lower power

    "...LCD TVs, praised as being greener than old-style tellies because they consume much less power"

    No they bloody don't!!

    Most of them (especially anything of any appreciable size) chuck out enough heat to toast your crumpets with.

    In contract most modern CRT displays (not that you can get them any more) are actually pretty good in comparison.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    But SF6 is so much fun

    Wonderful stuff.


  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Care less...

    Thanks to all the incessant enviro-ranting I've become desensitized to the whole thing.

    I now give 1/17000th of a shit.

    Harmony is restored.

  7. Steve Sherlock
    Dead Vulture


    I love the irony of 'Ads by Google' offering me no less than 6 HD TVs in an article that is saying how awful they are to the environment.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Wonky science and unfair to TVs

    Blimey, where to start?

    First of all, according to Wankypedia: "Note, no one knows where the 17,200 times figure came from."

    Second, this stuff is used in plasma etching all sorts of things, not just TV panels.

    Third, I guess the ratio of CO2 to NF3 is somewhat higher than 17,200:1 (like, orders of magnitude higher) but it is only a guess because nobody knows how much NF3 is released into the atmosphere anyway.

    And fourth, has he done any research to see if the nasty chip and telly makers spout all their NF3 into the air anyway?

    This bloke sounds like the Chicken Little of the scientific community. Wake me up when you have some facts.

  9. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Is there a chemist in the house?

    It's been a couple of decades since I did any chemistry, so I googled and found which contains the following statements (amongst others)...

    "Strongly supports combustion. May react violently with combustible materials."

    "Gas/vapour heavier than air. May accumulate in confined spaces, particularly at or below ground level."

    "No known ecological damage caused by this product. Global warming factor [CO2=1]: 8000"

    I've included the third mostly because I found it amusing, but partly because 8000!=17200. The first two, however, suggest that this stuff isn't going to be around for long enough to cause any trouble. I'm *quite* sure that Michael Prather's chemistry is better than mine, but the facts made public by El Reg do not establish the risk claimed in the headline. Not for the first time, I find myself reading about a scientific paper and wondering what the original paper said.

    I presume that the latest edition of Geophysical Research Letters is not freely online. I have no gripes with that, but it does mean that the general public have to just trust the reporters, who are clearly leaving stuff out.

  10. Me

    And Next....

    Next step would be to create a comparison between the different devices.


  11. Glenn Amspaugh

    Scientists. Meh!

    I was kicked out of 2 year college after my first year and even I know that this greenhouse danger stuff is all just a bunch of semi-communist scientist freaks who want to make everybody poor. If all the big companies have to change how they do things, they won't pay their employees as much and then those employees won't pay me as much to fix their cars and install fences (i work at a garage and after hours, do landscape construction). Why do the communists hate me? Why do they want me to make less than $30,000 a year?

  12. kns2c
    Paris Hilton

    LCD vs CRT

    LCDs do NOT consume less power than CRTs. Maybe comparing 15" LCD monitors to 15" CRTs (anyone remember those?) started this legend but that is not true anymore. My 21" CRT TV was 60W, now I have a 32" LCD that uses 90W at half-backlight and 150W at full. And I'm pretty sure most people who "upgrade" their "tubes" go up a few inches on the screen size at the same time, so forget about any energy savings. And it's only going to get worse with LCDs as they get bigger (52" - 300W).

  13. Bill

    Is the NET EFFECT important?

    I understand that comparable quantities of NF3 may be far nastier than of CO2, but is there actually enough of the NF3 being produced to make a difference? Humankind now produces about 30 billion tonnes of CO2; comparable warming from NF3 would require about 1.7 million tonnes.

    But the biggest US producer right now makes only about a thousandth that much (2000 tonnes annually), so I'm guessing worldwide that NF3 warming is still way under one percent of total CO2 warming.

    Anyone care to do the numbers properly?


  14. Herby

    Unintended consequences.

    Left hand, meet right hand. You win some, you lose some. Maybe "next time" when they have unrealistic goals, they will include "world peace" as well. Might as well go for broke!

    Of course, I prefer a good old CRT. Thankfully it contains a vacuum inside which compensates for other things.

  15. Bad Beaver

    Less energy? Which one?

    Please be more accurate and state which LCDs supposedly consume less energy than CRTs and where to acquire them. I, like other commenters, am rather under the impression that they are dual function devices that come with a built-in heater. Which is part of why I still refuse to get one.

  16. E


    "I was kicked out of 2 year college after my first year ..."

    Well then, you'll be an expert. eh?

  17. Andy Bright

    Does it really matter though?

    As long as we can watch news reports in HD, telling me how high the water is outside my house boat, and whether the day's smog is worse than smoking so a swim to work isn't a great idea.. why would I care about global warming?

    Remember, it's far more important that someone develop a gadget to tell us the distance between our boats and the land on which we used to walk than some nancy boy alternative energy or green tvs.

    The world loves a good gadget, and all this boring talk of global warming won't hold our attention as long as the supply of gadgets keeps coming.

    You see the great thing about gadgets is the conundrum they pose. We get the feeling they could be really useful for something, but can't quite put our finger on what.

    Now if I had a remote control that not only controlled my beautiful HDTV, but could operate the kettle, oven and refrigerator, why would we care about a few tons of harmless earth warming gas?

    Besides, the threat of terrorism is surely much more important. Global warming might destroy the world, but terrorists could nearly kill someone, especially if they could find a competent terrorist outside of Iraq.

  18. Drew

    The numbers, properly

    Using 4,000 tonnes as the killer death gas output (assuming it all is released into the sky every year, which the industry says it isn't, but let's pretend) with an efficiency factor of 17,200, we get the equivalent of 68,800,000 tonnes of CO2.

    If the world's annual CO2 output in 2004 was 26.9 x 10^9 tonnes, we get 0.2558% more greenhouse effect.

    Not insignificant, but worrying about that is like darning a hole in your pocket when the entire seat of your pants is ripped and your bum is hanging out.

    /sartorial similie ftw

  19. leslie

    Heat is good....

    in a cold climate....

    That ceiling mounted projector heating my room means the house heating does not come on as much while watching a film....

    balance is restored.....

  20. Anonymous Coward

    @Andy Bright

    Even according to the most frothy-mouthed AGW pessimists, global warming is NOT going to destroy or flood the world.

    Stop watching 'Waterworld' on loop and please kill yourself now for spouting such absurd drivel, you fuckwit.

  21. Les Matthew


    "I now give 1/17000th of a shit."

    So you are at least polluting the planet less.

  22. Charles Manning

    Numbers done properly

    Comparing global CO2 vs global NF3 is pointless, except for patting the alarmed citizens on the head.

    What is more important is looking at the effect on a per product basis: If 17200*NF3 used to make flat telly < CO2 saved by using flat telly then usingNF3 is a winner. Perhaps not green as grass, but less grey.

    ... assuming you buy into the Global Warming thing.

    @Drew: Thanks for not including pictures.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    @Ken Hagan

    "Gas/vapour heavier than air. May accumulate in confined spaces, particularly at or below ground level."

    Well, then we don't have much to worry about NF3 accumulating in the upper atmosphere. I would guess that gas at or below ground level isn't going to be much of a factor even if you accept that the "greenhouse effect" is real.

    This stuff also appears to be fairly reactive therefore, it isn't going to hang around for long like CO2 and CFCCs.

  24. Chris C

    Power savings

    Regarding the power savings, it looks like it all depends on what size you're talking about. I've measured my equipment with a power meter, and I can say that my Samsung 19" LCD monitor uses 30W max whereas my KDS 19" CRT monitor used 91W typical in graphics mode, higher in text modes, and sometimes up to 229W. So for 19" (and presumably smaller), LCD definitely seems to be more energy-efficient.

    I have a non-HD 52" projection TV I bought around June 2000 that uses 130-170W on and 25W sleep, and since I can't justify the expense of replacing it until it stops working, I haven't looked at TVs since then. Based on my experience with LCD monitors, I was expecting LCDs to be more energy-efficient in larger sizes as well. My 27" non-HD 1.33:1 CRT TV uses up to 75W (0.214W/sqin). A Samsung 27" 16:9 LCD TV I just looked up uses 110W according to their specs (0.353W/sqin). I tried looking at a lot of other LCD TVs, too, but couldn't find any power usage listed (either on stores' or manufacturers' websites).

    It looks like LCD panels don't "scale" very well in terms of energy efficiency or power savings over CRT. So if you're getting a small TV for a bedroom, LCD would probably be more energy-efficient. Anything larger, though, and it looks like CRT is more energy-efficient. Space consumption, placement, and aesthetics, however, are another issue.

  25. soaklord

    Umm... we may want some more of that...

    Mine's the one with the mammoth fur lined hood.

  26. John Savard

    What Sulfur Hexaflouride is used for

    It's a good electrical insulator, so Van de Graaf generators that produce very high voltages for use as particle accelerators are insulated with it. I don't know if they're using it over at CERN for that rather larger accelerator of theirs, but apparently, then, that gas is associated with boffinry.

  27. James Butler

    Not to be too much of a pain ...

    But are you Brits TRYing to increase global warming?

    First it's "rumour" instead of "rumor" and now "tonnes" instead of "tons". All of those extra characters add up, you know.

    Mine's the coaght with the exxtra pockkettes filled with NF3.

  28. Peyton

    LCD's environmental advantage over CRT

    May be more related to all that lead that they don't contain...

  29. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    You had better care

    Not caring about what the environuts are spewing is a quick way to disaster. You will wake up one morning to find stupid, corruption, and bad science have all been legislated, forcing you to conform to nonsensical requirements that look good on the surface but ignore deeper factors.

    Paris, she doesn't ignore the deeper factors.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    All that extra power....

    I fitted my 32" LCD with a UV backlight, now I am a geek with a tan.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Pedant mode - on

    It's not "HD TV gas", it's "LCD gas". I have an HD TV thanks very much, but it's a CRT so immune from all that nonsense. Don't tar me with yer enviro-brush!!

    Pedant mode - off

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    ironic advertising?

    thanks for posting a advert of "Most Wanted TVs" next to this article. mmmm toastie warm.

    Paris cos she's hot too.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I'm sure...

    ...that if the ecomentalists had proper jobs, they too would have LCD TVs.

    In the mean time, where's the re-runs of Dallas so I can see how life should be lived!

  34. Andy Bright

    @anonymous coward

    Touche my cowardly friend. So you deny the truth of the Water World documentary? Well you seem to have forgotten the prime truth your right wingnut legions hold dear to their hearts. 'If its on TV it must be true'.

    So I say a loud 'Huzzah' for the anonymous fuckwits that can't tell the difference between light-hearted banter and serious comments.

    Still, what if I did think Water World was real? At least its better than believing that the world is only 10,000 years old, all humans came from an incestuous duo (explain exactly who the children of Adam and Eve fucked to make more children) and that dinosaurs are both dragons and lived along side human beings. Oh perhaps you think children arrive via stork or even that God simply makes more of them as required. No doubt the world is also flat, at the center of the 10,000 yr old universe and is circled by the Sun, stars and any other planetary bodies you can manage to bring yourself to believe exists.

    Next time some right wingnut wants to comment on the satanic magics the rest of us call Science, why not instead keep your thoughts for the comment slips of your favourite creationist theme park.

  35. horace

    Deceiving the general public over power use between LCD TVS, and CRT TVs.

    LCD TVs, praised as being greener than old-style tellies because they consume much less power.


    Where do you get your facts and figures for this?... A CRT television consumes considerably less power than LCD TVs

  36. allan wallace

    @James Butler

    You should note, than a Tonne is a different weight from a Ton...

  37. Alain Moran

    The solution...

    Chuck that kin telly in the chuifing bin ... all it has ever done is fry your brain to the point that you dont ever have any original ideas of your own ... throw it away and read books.

  38. Geoff Mackenzie

    @James Butler

    Gd pnt. We shd al folo th merkn xmpl, & xtnd it as fr as pssbl. :)

  39. Anonymous Coward

    More scientists trying to be famous

    Ok, so another study comes to the conclusion that <insert any modern day gadget or activity> "MAY" be causing damage to our planet.

    Here's my plan for a study into global warming and climate change effects. Please contact me with grants and subsidies for me to carry out this important investigation for the good of all humanity:-

    1. Find a gas or substance that is bad for humans, animals, fish, birds, reptiles, insects, plants, trees, the atmosphere or just the environment in general.

    2. Find a modern day product or activity that produces or uses above gas/substance. This product must either be a modern day product, or an older one that is now being produced in much higher numbers to ensure a correlation between this product and the eventual demise of the planet.

    3. Come to the conclusion that this product "may" be having an effect on our health, well-being, planet, solar system or universe in general.

    4. Bank my research grant cheque and send the report to MP's who will back my campaign save the planet because it's just the done thing to do these days (and may win them a few extra green votes).

  40. Ascylto


    I smell future taxes!

  41. Anonymous Coward

    @ Alan W. Rateliff, II

    Oy! It's our language! Get yer own!

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @James Butler

    And why is a US Pint Less than than proper Pint?

    Its not saving the planet its ripping you off!

    Ton & Tonne, one is metric one is imperial and I'm not telling you which is which!

    As for extra letters, the u's are there to indicate the subtle difference in pronunciation, kind of like the L in solder. (its there to be used not ignored) but Merkins dont do subtle, so they ignore them. (note Merkin is usage with unessacery letters removed (its baen amerkinised))

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Off Topic!

    "Besides, the threat of terrorism is surely much more important. Global warming might destroy the world, but terrorists could nearly kill someone, especially if they could find a competent terrorist outside of Iraq."

    Sounds like a great idea for a reality TV programme; "Britain's Got Terror", you could get a load of disaffected morons to demonstrate what a great terrorist they'd be. The winner gets their demands met and the losers go to GITMO...

  44. Chris

    Research article

    For those of you interested, the abstract is here:

    Unfortunately, even with my Institutional Access, I can't download the full article, but the abstract has some useful info despite the spelling errors (metric tonnes, not 'metric tons').

    They claim that NF3 production is equivalent to 67M tonnes of CO2, which although is a very small proportion of the total GHG emissions its long lifetime of >500yr is a worry. Where they get the emission data from is not explicit, but must be a prediction as there's no global monitoring of the gas. Big pinch of salt required, then...

    BTW @AC re: @Ken Hagen -> CO2 is also heavier than air, hence why it is used in fire extinguishers, so the fact that NF3 is also heavier than air is not cause to not worry...

  45. Chris
    Black Helicopters




  46. Nigel


    Has someone got the wrong end of the stick?

    Sure, NF3 is a greenhouse gas, but as correctly pointed out above, 4000 tonnes of it per annum is insignificant compared to CO2, and probably not persistent.

    However, if it persists long enough to transport Flourine into the ozone layer (a few years), then (like CFCs) it's an ozone-destroyer, and needs to be very carefully watched.

    One other point, just because a gas is heavier than air it does not mean that it does not diffuse through air and ultimately mix with the atmosphere. If heavy gases just sank to the floor then CO2 (also heavier than air) would have sufficated everyone living at sea-level by now.

    And a Tonne is a metric unit (1000 kg), a Ton is an old imperial one (20 cwt or 2240 lbs). They're near enough the same for rough and ready comparisons.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Saving the world!

    >"Strongly supports combustion. May react violently with combustible materials."

    The solution therefore is to burn the telly once you're done with it.


  48. Louis

    @ Andy Bright

    "No doubt the world is also flat" This is a myth you muppet! There is NO evidence whatsoever this was believed by... well... ANYONE, EVER! *mumbles* bloody pseudo-scientific "facts" that get repeated by every man and his dog because it was on the fecking telly so must be true... *sigh*

    In the middle ages, which is popularly believed to be when people thought the world was flat, the inhabitants of that era actually knew the world to be spherical - although Christopher Columbus thought it was pear shaped.

    [/pedant mode]

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    The numbers might be bad, but the quantities ain't.

    Cows still are the biggest issue for greenhouse effect and methane in particular.

    @Steve sherlock

    Lucky devil, it only offered me 5 Flat screen TV's but I did get an mp3 player and mobile phone as well.

  50. Dave B

    Re: @James Butler

    Sry, tht shd b "z fr z pssbl". Plz lrn propr mrkn mi gd man, s langwj v th net dntcha no

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    you guys,

    It's all for nothing when I get my giant battle robot and nuke all your asses!

    Then I'll jump on my air ship, fire my nitros and I'll be long gone.

    Yeah - the futures bright, the futures me riding a fusion powered mecha tastic death machine spewing fire, du shells and chaos down on your unclean hides! O yeah - so sweet.

  52. Steve

    @Chris C

    > It looks like LCD panels don't "scale" very well in terms of energy efficiency or power savings over CRT.

    Probably true. Much of the power consumed in a CRT is by the deflection coils that scan the electron beam to and fro. That power is proportional to the deflection angle, not the absolute screen size. Most CRTs today have a consistent 110° deflection angle, no matter what the screen size is.

    The actual illumination is caused by the electron beam hitting phosphors on the front of the tube, and since only one group of phosphors is targetted at a time this again will not be directly proportional to screen size. Bigger screens may have bigger dots, and require a more powerful beam, but the actual power difference is minor in terms of watts.

    LCD TVs, on the other hand, illuminate the whole face of the screen all the time. That is proportional to the square of the screen size (usually given as a diagonal).

    So it isn't at all surprising that LCD power consumption scales very non-linearly with size, and is much greater than that of a CRT TV at larger sizes.

    Thumb Down

    LCD Manufacturers already remove alot of PFC emissions

    Some actual figures from AU Optronics Corporation a Taiwanese LCD Manufacture. They are clearly removing a lot of these greenhouse gases already:

    "All member companies of TTLA must install equipment that

    eliminates at least 90% of their total PFC emissions in new

    plants built after 2003 or engaged in mass production after


    AUO 2003 Total Emission : 716,928 ton CO2 equivalent

    CO2 - 54.2%

    SF6 - 39.0%

    NF3 - 3.7%

    N2O - 3.0%

    CH4 - 0.1%

    GWPi =100-year global warming potential of PFCi

    GWP of CO2 = 1

    GWP's using IPCC default values are:

    CF4 - 5700

    C3F8 - 8600

    C4F8 - 10000

    NF3 - 10800

    C2F6 - 11900

    CHF3 - 12000

    SF6 - 22200

  54. Liam


    just looked at my tv (LCD)

    ouch! apparently the power consumption is ~250w! although it doesnt seem to boot out much heat though! the problem is people think there 42" lcd will use less power than their old 24" style TV. this isnt comparing orange with oranges is it? im sure comparing the same sized lcd to crt shows that lcd is maybe better?

    i suppose this will be a short lived fad though, as OLED will be here in a few years. i think the power consumption of OLED is much less than LCD and plasma (plasma uses plenty more than lcd to my knowledge too)

    @ James Butler - hey man dont moan at us brits just cos you yankies cant spell for shit :) (although seems that most english cant spell from this forum most of the time :))

    colour colour colour! :) oh, and a 'fanny' is much more fun in our language too :)

  55. Colin Millar

    @andy bright

    a remote control to "operate the kettle, oven and refrigerator,"

    I had one of those - she divorced me

  56. Justin

    Is the backlight part of the problem?

    I assume that the backlight being fluorescent is part of the cause of the high power consumption especially at larger screen sizes, I guess when scaling up LED based backlights becomes practical power consumption will go down and heat output too.

  57. Iain

    LCD using less power than CRT

    I replaced my old CRT with an LCD a while back. Both 32" 16:9 screens, both made by Sony. The CRT used ~120W, the LCD ~80W. So clearly experiences differ from model to model, and also by screen configuration - I turn the backlight down a fair way on my LCD to get the best image quality.

  58. Christopher A Light

    Mine's smaller than yours...

    Bugger the dodgy chemicals, suspect maths and all...

    MY 37" LG manages 130w and the heat emission is FAR lower than my previous Pansonic 28" CRT (which you could burn pizzas on, never mind keep them warm).

    Seems to me that there are HD LCDs out there, and HD space heaters...

    Of course, if you really want to bugger the environment, have to install AirCon, and generally be an enviro-vandal... there's always a Plasma screen :-)

  59. Matt Bateman

    more money

    for the global warming industry now on the way, lets see which politician jumps on this one first?

  60. Bryan Seigneur

    Whether you agree ideologically or not, renewable is the way to go.

    To all those people who are somehow offended by the scientists, it's okay, you don't have to listen. But, BTW, if we had been listening to this global warming stuff for the last 30 years, we would be independent of oil a lot more now, and the world economy wouldn't be looking over the edge of cliff. That is all.

  61. JeffyPooh

    Power consumption

    Our large 53-inch Rear Projection TV with three CRT projector tubes: I measured (using the 'Kill-o-watt' gadget) 1.1 amperes times 120 volts = 132 watts when in use. When I finally get around to replacing it with a 50+ inch LCD, I expect the power consumption will be higher.

    Of course, in Canada, the heating season is about 8 months of the year. So the power consumption for 2/3 of the year is completely free, since it offsets the electric heat.

  62. Tony Paulazzo

    crt lcd oled

    >i suppose this will be a short lived fad though, as OLED will be here in a few years. i think the power consumption of OLED is much less than LCD and plasma (plasma uses plenty more than lcd to my knowledge too)<

    I bought my 28in CRT about 8 years ago, just replaced it with a 32in LCD (the CRT went to my brother as it still works perfectly - his 10+ years 20in CRT went to our mother as her CRT TV - about 30 years old was kinda on the blink, very purple). I'm not expecting to change to OLED for at least 5 to 10 years - probably by which time 3D holographic displays will be all the rage, I'll get one of them.

    The planet is in no danger, just the <stupid> people living on her. All this eco stuff is just trying to avert the coming human cull, unfortunately it's probably unavoidable. I hope I just live long enough to be able to download myself into a solar powered computer - so get a move on AI overlords...

  63. TeeCee Gold badge


    Well, there was me thinking that the world had only gone pear-shaped recently.

    There was I blaming the eco-nazis, Gordon Brown and OPEC and it's actually all Columbus' fault.

  64. clayton

    lighter than lead

    HEY if this shit is so heavy and it is really heavy how does it get up in the the upper atmosfrear to insulate in the heat traped below it ??????????????????

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