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News - HFO-1234yf - The New Air Conditioning Refrigerant

Last updated 28/03/2011 11:55 AM Article Ref: 255

HFO-1234yf - The New Air Conditioning Refrigerant

This is the latest communication from Autoclimate about the introduction of the new HFO-1234yf refrigerant. Over the coming months, we will provide more guidance and advice as soon as it becomes available. As things stand, the change will have little significance for the vehicle servicing and accident repair sectors until early 2012. Please be assured that the Autoclimate position is to help its customers to understand the situation and to assist in the preparations that will be necessary as HFO-1234yf is introduced.

The story so far
Vehicles receiving their type approval* from January 1st 2011 must use a refrigerant with a GWP (Global Warming Potential) of less than 150. The current refrigerant HFC R134a does not meet this requirement.
*Type approval is the confirmation that production samples of a design will meet specified performance standards. The specification of the product is recorded and only that specification is approved.www.vca.gov.uk

It is understood that globally, vehicle manufacturers have chosen HFO-1234yf to be the new refrigerant for cars and car derived vans (CDVs). HFO-1234yf is regarded as the most suitable refrigerant for low pressure systems and also requires minimal re-engineering.

All vehicles which received type approval on or prior to 31st December 2010, will continue to use the existing HFC R134a refrigerant until 2017.

Given the time delay from type approval to customer vehicles on the road, new models being launched to market from sometime in Q4 2011 onwards will probably be equipped with HFO-1234yf. More information will follow as details of specific models become known.

The initial global production of HFO-1234yf is likely to be sufficient to supply vehicle manufacturers’ production requirements only. Further production will come on stream later.

Advice and guidance
There is currently no need to be concerned about the limited availability of HFO-1234yf.

It is highly unlikely that there will be any servicing or repair requirements involving HFO-1234yf during 2011. Volumes will begin to grow steadily from 2012 onwards.

It is essential to continue the serviceability and maintenance of existing HFC R134a refrigerant management stations (RMS). The number of vehicles on the road with R134a will continue to grow for some years.

Do not hold back on the investment of additional or replacement RMSs if these are required.

Continue to train staff in the handling of HFC R134a and using RMSs. Autoclimate can provide refresher training if required.

Prepare to invest in an RMS to handle HFO-1234yf during 2012. The cost may well be higher than the current HFC R134a machines and at the present time, it is advised to budget up to £5,000 per machine. Further information about RMS requirements, availability and pricing, will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

New leak detection equipment is likely to be required.

Franchised dealers may be advised separately by their manufacturers about the recommended RMS equipment and purchasing arrangements.

The particular characteristics of the HFC R134a and HFO-1234yf refrigerants suggest that A/C servicing processes are likely to be different.

Due to limited availability of HFO-1234yf, the repair of any accident damaged vehicles which are equipped with the refrigerant may, in the short term, need manufacturer support for supplies.

Please note: it is illegal to re-gas a vehicle previously equipped with HFO-1234yf with HFC R134a

What’s hot
Autoclimate is in regular discussions with both equipment and gas suppliers to plan the progressive introduction and support for HFO-1234yf.

As the sole UK distributor for Robinair RMS units, and one of the largest UK automotive distributors of HFC R134a refrigerant, the company is now fully engaged with the introduction of HFO-1234yf. Any new information will be provided as soon it becomes available.

Coming up
Autoclimate is working towards securing a small quantity of HFO-1234yf refrigerant and a compatible Robinair refrigerant management station. This will enable our technical staff to learn more about the characteristics of HFO-1234yf, to begin preparations in the use of the equipment and defining the necessary customer training requirements.

About HFO-1234yf
-Developed and manufactured jointly by DuPont and Honeywell
-Has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of just 4 – much less than the maximum of 150
-The performance characteristics are very similar to HFC R134a
-It is mildly inflammable whereas HFC R134a is not flammable
-Lifespan if released to atmosphere is only 11 days compared with 13 years for HFC R134a
-When stocks are available, the price will be higher than that of HFC R134a –at least initially

We welcome any questions about the introduction of HFO-1234yf and will respond as best we can with the information that is available. Please email us using the contact us section of the website.

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