Time is up for choice of sustainable refrigerant
Automotive manufacturers are being urged to choose sustainable
CO2 technology in their next generation air conditioning, thereby dropping
tests of less efficient, potentially toxic and flammable chemicals.
Many questions remain unsolved concerning HFO 1234-yf,
a chemical refrigerant for vehicle air conditioning jointly proposed
by DuPont and Honeywell. This new substance is potentially toxic, with
unknown decomposition effects in the atmosphere and poorer efficiency
than current R-134a based systems.
In addition, the new chemical refrigerant is flammable. As shown by independent
tests, in case of a vehicle front-end collision, the refrigerant could
lead to an additional fire inside the passenger cabin.
“There is already a safe, sustainable, and global solution ready to be
part of air conditioning systems today, namely CO2. We should proceed
quickly to this transition, and avoid running the additional safety and
environmental risks posed by chemicals for the sake of short-term economic
benefits,” concludes Petter Neksa, from Norway’s leading Energy Research.
However, chemical giants are strongly promoting the substance in a bid
to delay for as long as possible, a decision by car manufacturers in
favor of the natural refrigerant CO2.
“Marketed over years by chemical companies, CFCs, HCFCs and HFCs have
proved devastating for the ozone layer and the world’s climate. These
companies now have a historic opportunity to avoid past mistakes and
stop promoting a new chemical with unknown effects on the atmosphere.
This new chemical is potentially toxic and will prolong unnecessarily
the lifespan of highly polluting R-134a used today. At least 3% of the
world’s greenhouse gas emissions is at stake,” says Wolfgang Lohbeck,
Head of Special Projects at Greenpeace.