The global expansion of R1234yf refrigerant is continuing with new supply and technology licence agreements in key developing markets such as India and China, however VASA understands that this will not necessarily lead to price reductions.
Overseas reports indicate that there are already more than eight million cars on the road using R1234yf – a near drop-in replacement for R134a in vehicle air-conditioning systems – and that this could grow to more than 18 million vehicles by the end of this year, such is the rapid rate of adoption underway.
American multinational Honeywell recently announced it had forged a multi-year agreement with Chinese manufacturer Juhua Corporation to meet increased worldwide demand for R1234yf, broadening its production base from the US to China, where Juhua will begin producing Honeywell’s Solstice yf (HFO-1234yf) in China by the end of this year.
This is part of a $US300 million investment by Honeywell to expand its global R1234yf production capacity as demand grows rapidly due to increased environmental regulations and policies – particularly in the US and Europe – aimed at reducing the global warming impacts of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
In the European Union, ‘Phase 3’ of the so-called MAC (mobile air-conditioning) directive comes into force on January 1, 2017, when all new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles must have a GWP (global warming potential) lower than 150.
R134a has a GWP of 1300, while HFO-1234yf has a GWP of less than one.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has banned R134a in passenger cars and light-duty trucks from the 2021 model year, while the Californian Air Resources Board has proposed that a similar 150 GWP limit be in place by 2020.
US auto-makers are also increasingly turning to R1234yf to help comply with Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and other regulations.
Honeywell’s Chinese deal announced in April came just weeks after the company revealed it had entered into a supply agreement and technology licence with Indian manufacturer Navin Fluorine International Limited, which is also expected to begin production by the end of 2016.
Another Indian manufacturer, SRF Limited, also announced in April that it was setting up a pilot plant to produce R1234yf in a “breakthrough initiative” that it claims will see it become the first technology developer outside the US and Europe to manufacture the new-generation refrigerant.
SRF says the technology will be developed in-house and allow it to manufacture, brand and sell R1234yf in India and in global markets.