The new replacement refrigerant for R134a, R1234yf has been renounced by one of the world’s major car makers, Daimler/Mercedes Benz of Germany.
In a move which has stunned the global car industry, Daimler has concluded tests of its own on 1234yf, and decided that it will not use the refrigerant in any of its vehicles, including Mercedes Benz, and until something better comes along, will stick with the proven R134a.
VASA’s sister organisation MACS Worldwide says it is too soon to assess the ramifications of this decision, with some pundits already saying it marks the end of the new replacement refrigerant, which has already been signed off by most of the car makers in the world. The big question is how the Daimler’s decfision will square with the EU requirement to use low global warming refrigerants in all new cars.
Daimler says it has already informed the relevant authorities of the results of their testing, and says it will make the results availalbe to all relevant associations as well as to other vehicle manufacturers.
Up to now, the climate-friendly chemical 1234yf was to be used worldwide in the automotive industry and was previously perceived to be safe. This was determined by numerous laboratory and crash tests carried out by international vehicle manufacturers and independent institutions.
Despite multiple confirmations of non-critical results, Daimler carried out a series of additional tests on the new refrigerant as part of a new real-life test scenario developed in-house which goes above and beyond the legally prescribed requirements.
In the new real-life test scenario, the refrigerant is dynamically dispersed at high pressure near to hot components of the test vehicle’s exhaust system. This corresponds to a serious head-on collision in which the refrigerant line is severed and the reproducible results demonstrate that refrigerant which is otherwise difficult to ignite under laboratory conditions can indeed prove to be flammable in a hot engine compartment. Similar tests of the current R134a refrigerant did not result in ignition.
Due to the new findings of this study and the high safety demands at Mercedes-Benz, this chemical will not be used in its products. The company therefore wishes to continue to use the proven and safe R134a refrigerant in its vehicles.