Koura is about to produce a lower global warming potential (GWP) automotive refrigerant alternative to R134a as countries like Australia drag the chain on banning imports of equipment charged with high-GWP HFCs despite having ratified a phase-down schedule under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
Koura’s R456a (branded Klea 456a) is an alternative to R134a on existing mobile air-conditioning systems, of which there are hundreds of millions on the road globally.
R456a has a GWP of 626, representing a significant reduction in CO2-equivalent footprint when compared to R134a which has a GWP of 1430.
R134a has been banned for use in new vehicles in Europe since 2014, the USA since 2021 and in Japan this year, yet it is widely used in Australia and other countries, where new cars are still being sold with the high-GWP HFC refrigerant.
As the HFC phase-down continues, the volume of R134a that can be legally used internationally will continue to decrease.
This gradual year-on-year reduction in supply is already making R134a cost-prohibitive in New Zealand, where it is compounded by the Emissions Trading Scheme that heavily penalises high global warming potential refrigerants.
For countries like Australia where there is currently little incentive for change, R456a could be a solution to reducing the CO2-equivalent footprint of air-conditioning systems installed in the national automotive fleet.
Koura’s successful automotive air-conditioning trials with R456a have shown its compatibility with existing R134a while maintaining performance.
It can also be handled using existing R134a servicing equipment and is safe to intermix with R134a in all proportions.
R456a refrigerant is a non-flammable blend of six per cent R32, 45 per cent R134a and 49 per cent R1234ze(E).
Koura is working with Italian workshop equipment manufacturer Texa to get European Union certification for R456a.
Texa product manager Stefano Menghel said R456A “represents another advancement in the automotive aftermarket”.
“We are delighted to be working with Koura to help bring this product to market.”
Like R474A, a potential PFAS ban in Europe threatens to outlaw R1234ze(E) and blends that contain it, which could render R456a illegal in major markets.
It is a similar story for R513A, marketed as a successor to R134a in stationary refrigeration equipment by Chemours that, like R456a, is being considered as a lower GWP (rated at 630) retrofit for automotive R134a systems.
R513a is a blend of 44 per cent R134a and 56 per cent R1234yf (also subject to potential PFAS ban) and, like R456A, is classified as an A1 non-flammable, non-toxic refrigerant.
Successfully retrofitting existing automotive R134a systems to either of these products – provided they meet performance requirements – could help address the ticking time bomb of automotive air-conditioning systems that could lose all refrigerant to atmosphere in collisions or at end of life.