Pollutant Information: Sulphur hexafluoride 

About Sulphur hexafluoride

Category: Greenhouse gases

Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) is a greenhouse gas and has a very high radiative forcing effect and a GWP of 22,800 compared with a figure of 1 for carbon dioxide. Emissions occur due to its use in a small number of applications. Annual emissions have decreased by 67% since 1995. The largest source is related to the use of SF6 for electrical insulation (78% of the total in 2021). Emissions arise during the manufacture and filling of electrical switchgear and from leakage and during maintenance throughout the equipment’s lifetime. This use of SF6 for this application has only occurred on a large scale for the last 30 years and little of the equipment has been decommissioned to date. It is expected that users will take great care over future fluid recovery, so that emissions will be minimised.

» View and Download Sulphur hexafluoride emission summary data

Time series graph

Notable events

Start year End year Sector Information Impact
1999 2005 Metal Production Reduction in SF6 used in Aluminium and Magnesium Foundries as a cover gas. Decrease in emissions
1990 1992 Particle accelerators Emissions of research and university particle accelerators are very high for this period, because of the operation of the Nuclear Structure Facility, which closed in 1992 Decrease in emissions