USA: DuPont has announced that it predicts nearly 3 million vehicles worldwide will use HFO-1234yf as a refrigerant by the end of 2014.
With the very public exception of Mercedes the majority of automakers are currently using HFO-1234yf, to comply with the European Union (EU) Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) Directive
Thierry F. J. Vanlancker, president, DuPont Chemicals & Fluoroproducts said, “We expect higher conversion in the European market, driven by the need to comply with the MAC Directive.”
Adoption of HFO-1234yf may also be driven by the anticipated regulatory developments particularly in the U.S. as the rule-making is expected as early as this year, eliminating the use of HFC-134a in new vehicle air conditioning. Japan is also expected to issue final rule-making on an HFC phase-down schedule, which will cover automotive refrigerants.
HFO-1234yf was specifically developed to enable automakers to comply with the EU MAC Directive, which requires that all new model type cars sold in EU Member States use an automotive refrigerant that has a global warming potential (GWP) of less than 150. By 2017, all new cars sold in Member States must meet this requirement and most of the world’s automakers have indicated they will pr already have adopted HFO-1234yf, which DuPont sells as Opteon® YF.
HFO-1234yf has a GWP of less than one, which is well below the threshold established by the MAC Directive. The GWP is 99.9 percent lower than that of HFC-134a, the refrigerant it was developed to replace. In addition to its extremely low global warming potential, it's also is quite energy efficient, which can help maximize the fuel efficiency of cars, further reducing potential impact to the climate.
“We believe Opteon® YF will help significantly reduce the environmental footprint of cars over time, which is a critical sustainability need around the world,” said Kathryn K. McCord, global business director, DuPont Fluorochemicals. “If this product were adopted in all new cars sold in the EU, North America, and Japan, those cars would have reduced emissions equivalent to using around a billion fewer gallons of fuel or driving 15-32 billion fewer miles.”
As we previously reported a number of voices in Germany continue to raise concerns about this product relative to flammability and potential incineration byproducts. Mercedes has refused to switch from the existing R134a refrigerant to the new refrigerant R1234yfdpuf due to these issues. However, these claims have been vehemently denied by DuPont and extensively and thoroughly investigated by third party research initiatives in settings that simulate real-life situations.
Based on results of these evaluations, HFO-1234yf has been accepted by the automotive industry and by regulatory bodies. Most recently, a German professor pointed at potential safety risks based on lab results showing formation of carbonyl fluoride from decomposition of this product through combustion.
“In reality, it has been well known for a long time that carbonyl fluoride can potentially form from decomposition of many fluorine-containing refrigerants, including HFC-134a, which has been safely used in more than a billion vehicles over the last two decades,” said Mario Nappa, a distinguished DuPont scientist who is a recognized authority on fluorine chemistry. “Further, it is well documented in scientific literature that if carbonyl fluoride were to form in an extreme, theoretical case, it would exist for only a fraction of a second, not long enough to put people at risk.”