There are increasing levels of confidence that a new refrigerant may be able to significantly reduce the global warming potential of the air conditioning systems in our cars.
Known as R1234yf, the refrigerant is being tested by the SAE International Cooperative Research Project: and the group is now reporting that its team has a “high level of confidence” that the refrigerant can be used safely in automotive applications.
According to SAE, R1234yf appears to pose no greater risk than other engine compartment fluids following its latest review. This is after Daimler had launched its own findings last September which raised questions about whether R1234yf could be a safe replacement refrigerant for air conditioning: even going as far as to say it would not use the chemical in its products. Daimler withdrew its participation from the group and it was followed quickly by both Audi and BMW.
However, SAE responded quickly by conducting a detailed review of its original fault tree analysis: and significantly expanded this analysis to feature new parameters and recent test results. It features contributions from numerous parties and a wide range of expertise and experience.
It then continued to review R1234yf for air conditioning in a variety of situations including: on-vehicle simulations; laboratory simulations; and with actual vehicle crash data. Its conclusion is that the refrigerant is “highly unlikely” to ignite and that ignition would require idealised conditions.
In addition, it suggests that Daimler’s testing was unrealistic and ignored real world scenarios.
Now the team, which includes Chrysler/Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, PSA, Renault and Toyota, is hopeful that R1234yf may once again represent a significant breakthrough in air conditioning emissions for the vehicles we drive.
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