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Multiple refrigerants inevitable in automotive

IF YOU thought the switch from R134a to R1234yf is the single biggest technical challenge the automotive air conditioning industry has to cope with in coming years, think again.

CylindersMercedes-Benz parent company Daimler, which has rejected R1234yf on safety grounds, confirmed to VASA eNews that it is aiming to have systems using carbon dioxide refrigerant ready in 2016 and has not considered hydrocarbons due to their flammability.

Refrigerant blends are also being developed that address flammability and price concerns associated with R1234yf, the latest being R451a and R451b that are claimed by their developers at Inha University South Korea to be “virtually non-flammable” and with a global warming potential (GWP) of less than 150 – the European legal limit for automotive air conditioning systems.

VASA eNews has reason to believe the Renault-Nissan Alliance is considering Mexichem’s R445a (a blend of 85 per cent R1234ze, nine per cent R134a and six per cent CO2 that is less flammable than R1234yf and is also known as AC6) as an alternative to R134a and R1234yf.

A decision by Renault-Nissan to adopt R445a would be significant given the Alliance’s combined global sales of around eight million units a year across all its brands place it firmly among giants like Toyota, General Motors and Volkswagen Group.

There is also the fact that R134a is not going away and will continue to be available for older vehicles plus of course the presence of vehicles retrofitted with hydrocarbons.

How this will play out in workshops remains to be seen but at the very least an investment in refrigerant identifiers, multiple gas recovery systems (or multi-refrigerant capable equipment), gauges, recovery cylinders and training in the different gases are all but inevitable.

VASA members are best positioned to be informed and trained in these new industry developments.

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