HFO-1234yf A/C System Servicing
We here at Bee Cool ACS have invested in the latest technologies, and are able to offer HFO-1234 A/C System servicing at our Kettering Workshop ‘While You Wait’, with no appointment needed during our opening hours.
Annual Service Price £120.00 (Up to 600Gms)
Please contact us on 01536 428243 for more information.
The Background to HFO-1234yf
- The EU banned the use of refrigerants with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) greater than 150 in new vehicle platforms in the beginning of 2011. R134a has a GWP of 1300.
- For the last 5 years, the industry has been developing CO2 (GWP=1) A/C Systems, but the cost and reliability did not meet with industry needs.
- The North American shift in refrigerant use is NOT due to legislative ban, but credits toward the ‘Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Regulations, requiring manufacturers to comply with 34.1 MPG across their fleet by 2016. Some manufacturers will require these credits to ‘Off-Set’ fines incurred from a non-compliant fleet.
- HFO-1234yf (GWP=4), is a refrigerant co-developed by DuPont and Honeywell, as a near drop-in replacement for R134a, adopted by car manufacturers as the refrigerant for the next generation of cars.
The deadline set by the European Commission stating that, up to the 31st December 2012 car manufacturers could still use R134a in new type-approved vehicles due to lack of availability of the new refrigerant, has now passed. Any new type-approved vehicles will now have to contain HFO 1234yf refrigerant at the point of manufacture, so these vehicles will start to become more common place on the UK roads.
So is HFO-1234yf now readily available?
Manufacturers of HFO-1234yf (Honeywell and DuPont) have already been working on production and their initial target of quarter 4 of 2012 to begin production was met. UK handlers of the refrigerant have also been appointed and supplies are being distributed to selected companies. Bee Cool ACS, being an automotive aftermarket R134a distributor, have reached an agreement to stock HFO-1234yf and can now supply this product.
What happens if after the deadline car manufacturers continue to use R134a in the production of their cars?
The directive set by the European Commission is clear; any new type-approved vehicles from January 1st 2013 must contain HFO-1234yf. Those cars that already received type-approval before the cut-off date and are in production may continue to use R134a. The European Commission will begin to start infringement procedures against those manufacturers who don’t follow the directive. This will be monitored and enforced by authorities, in the member states that are responsible for type-approval, certification of production and market surveillance.
What will happen to vehicles that were type approved after the original cut-off date (January 2011) but filled with R134a due to lack of refrigerant availability? Will they need retro-fitting?
The decision made by the commission states that “new types of vehicles can only be type-approved if they are fitted with MAC systems that are compatible with Directive 200/40/EC. However, as long as the refrigerant HFO-1234yf is not available, and with a definitive limitation on 31 December 2012, manufacturers may continue to use the old refrigerant (R134a) to fill new type-approved production vehicles, when this is technically possible.”
There are no retrofitting obligations
Will technicians need additional training?
The characteristics of HFO-1234yf are very similar to that of R134a. In particular temperature and pressure properties, so technicians already trained in the use of R134a should have no difficulties with HFO-1234yf. All that is needed is additional training on the specific equipment.
THE HFO-1234YF DILEMMA
On November 23rd 2012 the European commission ruled that after 1st January 201,3 R134A, which has been in use since 2004 as the main refrigerant for automotive a/c systems will not have type approval for manufacturing. The new gas that has been jointly developed by Honeywell and DuPont is called HFO-1234YF and must be fully adopted by manufacturers as standard refrigerant by 2017.
By the end of 2012, Daimler/Mercedes Benz had released press statements regarding the potential flammability risks of HFO-1234yf, putting the manufacturing industry into turmoil. Essentially all the time and money spent in research and development on this product will be wasted.
By February 2013 Daimler/Mercedes Benz, Audi, & BMW officially leave the HFO-1234yf development program stating the concerns over vehicle safety.
Daimler/Mercedes Benz recalled the SL class (R231) built with HFO-1234yf platforms with the intention of rebuilding the sold vehicles to R134A.
By June 2013 the European commission granted the manufacturers an extension for the type approval and for further safety testing of the HFO-1234yf product.
In August 2013 the German safety authority (KBA) supported Daimler/Mercedes Benz in their decision not to adopt HFO and this was supported by the French government’s decision to block registration of new vehicles containing HFO-1234yf.
As of January 21st 2014 the European commission is preparing proceedings against any manufacturers using R134A in their vehicles.
There are then three documented proposed alternatives currently being considered:
TIFFE – (Thermal Systems Integration for Fuel Economy)
This is a joint collaboration between Fiat, Ford Germany & Denso the system offers both engine cooling and air conditioning, combining both current systems and utilising a heat exchanger. There are both positives and negatives to this system.
The positives are that a heat exchanger does not have to be mounted at the front of the vehicle for maximum airflow, but can be mounted under the vehicle allowing for more aerodynamic design concepts. The system does not require engine power. And therefore is suited for Hybrid technology vehicles it also has an academic fuel consumption of approximately 28% due to homogeneous consumption.
There are also some negatives firstly the system takes three pumps to run as opposed to the current single compressor, this means that there could be future warranty and servicing implications due to this added component. There are potential problems with long term reliability due to additives that are required to be added to the system. Finally there would need to be new refrigerants potentially required to ensure system efficiency.
CO2 systems are currently widely used in large scale industrial applications. CO2 GWP =1. The system is efficient from an academic viewpoint and is known to be reliable. However there are major problems in producing a CO2 system small enough to fit into an automobile. Also CO2 is highly toxic to humans and the potential for leaks and seepage into the cabin of an automobile inevitable illness and even death may occur. The cost and reliability of this system is also in question. This will take a lot of convincing to the current vehicle safety authorities worldwide and manufacturers to adopt.
This product is manufactured by Mexicem in Mexico it is designed to be a safer, less flammable alternative to HFO 1234YF. The GWP of R445a = 135. The product is still mildly flammable and although better than HFO due to current perception of HFO it would be hard to change the viewpoint of both manufacturing industry and the worldwide vehicle safety authorities. There would potentially be further safety issues further down the line with this product in regard to aftermarket servicing procedures.
Whereas R134A has a boiling point of -26c, R445A has a boiling point of -48c and so carries increased risks of cold burns to servicing personnel in the aftermarket and would be very hard to comply with health and safety legislation in the workplace.
In summary the three current proposed alternatives to HFO each have significant downsides and there is no easy short term answer. In an ideal world it would be for someone to spend a lot of money on research and development to find a brand new product.
Anyone who was able to develop this ideal product would potentially have not only worldwide sales of that product when fitted to automobiles but also increased brand credibility, revenue form refrigerant and consumables sales both in manufacturing and aftermarket servicing.
The answer does however need to be found quickly and in any event before 2017 to comply with the legislations currently in place.
(May 2015) There is still a lot of un-certainty with regard to the future of HFO-1234yf systems, however, there are now some cars being produced with the new gas in them. Due to this fact, we are able to offer servicing & repairs for these systems on an individual basis.