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Daimler ups campaign against R1234yf while German firefighters demand refrigerant warning stickers

Daimler has continued to refute the safety findings of the carmakers’ research by SAE International, questioning their ‘scientific rigour’. Meanwhile German firefighters call for a warning sign to alert rescuers to R1234yf risks, complaining drivers are ‘guinea pigs’

Daimler has refuted the evidence so far presented by researchers and carmakers into the safe use of the automotive refrigerant R1234yf. The carmaker was giving evidence to the working groups specially convened by the European Commission, as the Commission tries to end the long-running dispute over the safetyoftherefrigerant.

Daimler and fellow German carmakers, along with Toyota’s Deutschland subsidiary currently will not use R1234yf on safety grounds, even though the carmakers own research body SAE International has deemed the risks “well below those commonly considered acceptable both by the public and regulatory agencies”

The stance puts the German carmakers in contravention of the EC’s Mobile Airconditioning Directive, which is why the Commission is determined to end the dispute.

In a strongly worded presentation at the second of three working groups, Daimler questioned the scientific rigour and the assumptions of the SAE findings, while continuing to assert that its own collision tests found further risks.The carmaker also refuted the presentations of refrigerant producers Honeywell and Dupont at the previous meeting.

At the same time the German environmental group DUH and Germany’s national firefighting association have called for warning stickers for the windscreens of cars containing R1234yf, because they believe that the lower ignition temperature compared to the previous refrigerant R134a and the risk of releasing hydrofluoric acid make it potentially dangerous to rescuers in the event of a collision.
According to the German Federal Motor Vehicle Office, some 90,000 vehicles are alredy using the refrigerant on Germany’s roads.

”This is the greatest experiment in the history of the chemical industry. And the drivers are the guinea pigs,” said DUH national manager Jürgen Resch.
Daniel Dahlke, deputy chairman of the firefighters’ body,
added: ” R1234yf can be life-threatening for us for rescue services in case of accidents. Together with DUH we therefore demand a clear warning on the windshield of vehicles already on the market with R1234yf .” The type of sticker they propose is pictured.

Both organisations are also calling for ‘the fastest possible transition to the natural non-flammable refrigerant CO2.’

Readers' comments (4)

  • Based on my conversation with the relevant individuals @ Toyota today, the reference to them appears to be incorrect. One has to wonder who the source of this information is. In addition, is BMW not a German company that is using 1234yf in their i3 platform?

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  • Is there any material reference to, ".....SAE International has deemed it to have less risk of flammability than the R134a it was designed to replace." This also appears to be incorrect.

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  • Peter,
    You are right to pick up on errors caused by us trying to summarise the 'backstory' too quickly.
    The comparison with R134a was with the toxicity - 'equal or lower risk' rather than flammability, so we have changed the references to reflect the fact that it is Toyota Deutschland which has decided not to use R1234yf.
    We have now also quoted directly from the SAE report into R1234yf, found at: http://www.sae.org/standardsdev/tsb/cooperative/crp_1234-4_report.pdf

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  • Peter
    ignore the previous, which didnt display correctly.
    You are right to pick up on errors caused by us trying to summarise the 'backstory' too quickly.
    We have changed the references to reflect the fact that it is Toyota Deutschland which has decided not to use R1234yf.

    The comparison with R134a was with the toxicity - where R1234yf was found to be 'equal or lower risk' than R134a - rather than flammability, so we have now quoted instead directly from the SAE report into R1234yf, found at: http://www.sae.org/standardsdev/tsb/cooperative/crp_1234-4_report.pdf

    Thanks for the feedback
    Andrew

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