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The MAC wars

Nicholas Cox asks if there too many chefs driving the refrigerant battle

With the focus on meeting the F-Gas regulation, we have forgotten the F-Gas directive, legislating for F-Gas phase out in MACs (euro-speak for car air conditioning) from 2011.  

The GWP limit of 150 was chosen to accommodate lobbying by the MAC industry to allow the use of R152A, now rejected because the adoption of R152A would have opened the door to cheaper more efficient hydrocarbon alternatives. Conversions of MACs to HCs commenced in Idaho, USA during 1992. Over 10 million MACs worldwide have been converted and over 20 million user years have accumulated. At long last a hydrocarbon lobby is developing, see www.hydrocarbons21.com.

Meanwhile, the Americans have developed R1234 which requires relatively little fire suppressant to make it non-flammable. Unfortunately they opted for CF3I, trifluoroiodomethane as the fire suppressant. This has been found to be ozone depleting so its use in MACs is banned. Instead of searching for alternatives, they decided it would be easier to amend the safety regulations! Thus any benefit from R1234 is dependant on a new safety category – A2L. There are precedents for the manipulation of safety standards for the commercial benefit, but this demeans our industry so perhaps it can be stopped? As you’d expect they have an efficient lobby which you can follow at www.R1234.com.

The best chance of stopping them lies with the European R744 lobby, well organised, well funded, and increasingly effective, visit www.R744.com to see how it should be done.

This leaves me in the unusual position of holding the middle ground, with Earthcare’s ECP744 which is 50 per cent synthetic and 50 per cent natural, less toxic and more efficient than CO2, and non flammable without the horrendous decomposition products of R1234.

So, as Germany and America lock horns once more, Earthcare finds itself taking the role of “plucky little Belgium”. Anyone for moules and frites?