VASA’S North American counterpart MACS has received reports of Chinese vehicles being sold into Uruguay with air-conditioning systems labelled as using the refrigerant blend R415b.
This refrigerant is 25 per cent R22 (an ozone-depleting HCFC) and 75 per cent R152a (an A2-rated flammable HFC).
It is reportedly installed in seven-seat minivan type vehicles sold in some South American markets as the Dongfeng Glory.
According to MACS, the Glory’s service ports are the same as those on vehicles using R134a, although a non-standard slam panel label reads “R415B Freon-free refrigerant”.
Nobody has yet managed to hook up a refrigerant identifier to find out what is really in the Dongfeng Glory’s air-con system or whether the hoses, seals and oils are even compatible with R415b.
The compressor manufacturer is also unknown at this stage.
If the refrigerant label on the Dongfeng Glory proves accurate, the use of ozone-depleting refrigerant in new vehicles is a clear concern as these products are controlled under the Montreal Protocol.
Consistent information about R415b is not easily found, although various supplier websites based in China and India list numerous applications where this refrigerant can serve as a replacement for R12 and R134a.