With more than three billion vehicles projected to be on the road in the near future, it is critical to minimize not just their energy use, but also their environmental impact, which is where a next-generation refrigerant can help. Today there are more than 400 million cars worldwide with air conditioning systems. The most common refrigerant in use is hydrofluorocarbon HFC-134a, which has a global warming potential (GWP) of 1430. As the number of vehicles multiplies almost eightfold over the next decade or so, that GWP cannot be sustained.
In response, the 2006 EU Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) Directive mandates that all new car types have a next-generation refrigerant with a GWP of less than 150 as of January 2011. From 2017 on, this standard will apply to all new cars.
With a GWP of 4, DuPont™ Opteon® YF (HFO-1234yf) refrigerant delivers 97 percent less GWP than the new regulation requires, making it the premier next- generation refrigerant.
Partnering to Develop an Environmentally Friendly Solution
DuPont scientists teamed with Honeywell scientists to accelerate the development of a next-generation refrigerant: Opteon® YF (HFO-1234YF). Opteon® YF exceeds the EU MAC directive, plus delivers an energy-efficient, safe and easy-to-implement solution.
DuPont and Honeywell introduced HFO-1234YF to the automotive industry in 2007, and since then, it has undergone extensive testing for safety and efficacy by independent testing groups such as the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International Cooperative Research Program, in which leading automakers participate.
The SAE testing found HFO-1234YF offers superior environmental performance compared to carbon dioxide, an alternative refrigerant, while having the lowest risk for use in meeting consumer needs.
How DuPont™ Opteon® YF refrigerant is different from HFC-134a
The current leading refrigerant, HFC-134a is a hydrofluorocarbon refrigerant, while Opteon® YF (HFO-1234yf) is a hydrofluoro-olefin refrigerant. HFC refrigerants are composed of hydrogen, fluorine and carbon atoms connected by single bonds between the atoms. HFO refrigerants are composed of hydrogen, fluorine and carbon atoms, but contain at least one double bond between the carbon atoms.
Opteon® YF does have physical properties similar to HFC-134a, offering the ability to be used in current HFC-134a systems with minimal system modifications.
Close to Zero GWP
Opteon® YF has a GWP of 4 based on a 100-year time horizon, and more than meets the EU MAC directive regulation of GWP of 150. Not only is it is 97 percent lower than the EU mandate, it is also 99.7 percent better than HFC-134a, which has a GWP of 1430. Compared to alternative refrigerants, it has the most favorable climate footprint over its entire life cycle.
“Near Retrofit” Implementation
CO2 refrigerants, which also meet the EU MAC directive requirement, require a complete and costly overhaul of manufacturing technologies in order to be implemented. Opteon® YF may need only a few minor modifications to existing air conditioning systems before being installed.
An Energy-Efficient Solution
The major part of a refrigerant’s global warming potential is due to indirect
CO2 emissions, which are caused by the increased fuel consumption needed to
power the air conditioning.
Opteon® YF refrigerant is more efficient at high temperatures than CO2 refrigerants. Tests by the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association showed that air conditioners equipped with Opteon® YF produce significantly less CO2 emissions than those running with CO2 refrigerants in hot climate zones.
Safe for Drivers and Passengers
Worldwide, independent institutes have assessed Opteon® YF next-generation refrigerant in numerous long-running tests and studies. Risk analysis, laboratory tests, and toxicological assessments have proven that Opteon® YF refrigerant is safe. The automotive industry itself has tested the safety of Opteon® YF refrigerant, finding that even in the case of a crash, Opteon® YF did not catch fire or cause any harm.
Bringing It to Market
While DuPont and Honeywell developed HFO-1234YF together, they will market and sell it separately. Plans are to have an interim-sized plant up and running in 2013, with a large-scale plant slated to open in late 2014 or early 2015.
“The new refrigerant enables the automotive industry to reduce the environmental footprint of vehicles at significantly lower cost than alternatives,” said Thierry Vanlancker, President — DuPont Chemicals & Fluoroproducts. “DuPont is confident we’ll have the winning combination to enable the industry to realize environmental benefits sooner. DuPont’s role in the introduction of HFO-1234YF is another great example of the innovation DuPont has brought to the automotive industry for nearly a century.”