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EC tells Daimler 'you can't go back to R134a'

Carmakers join forces to satisfy themselves of HFO safety as EC rules out further delays

Thirteen carmakers are participating with enigeering research group SAE in a bid to satisfy itself on the safety of HFO 1234yf, following Daimler’s concerns about the flammability of the gas in a head-on collision.

The move comes as EC Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard confirmed to RAC that she has told carmakers they will not be allowed to further extensions on the use of R134a. The Mobile Air Conditioning Directive, banning refrigerants with GWPs above 150, was intended to come into full force this year, but carmakers have effectively gained an extra year to comply, partly because of concerns about availability. She said: “Without going into specifics, we met with carmakers and told them they have had long enough warning.”

The SAE’s International Cooperative Research Program (CRP) into the safety of HFO 1234yf will see participation by Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, PSA, Renault and Toyota.

SAE noted that three previous CRPs have concluded that the refrigerant can be used safely in vehicles that are designed for the new refrigerant.  

The group said: “Despite previous confirmations of the safety of R1234yf in both laboratory and vehicle testing, in September 2012, Daimler raised a new question about the safe usage of R1234yf based on their most recent vehicle tests.  In response, leading global automobile manufacturers have joined together to perform an updated engineering analysis based on the most recent information. This research team is working as quickly as possible to resolve this question and will issue interim reports as well as a final statement at the conclusion of the CRP’s activities.

At the same time, Honeywell, the principal developer of the refrigerant confirmed that following its own face-to-face meetings with Daimler, it considered that there was no new case to argue. “It is business as usualregarding development,” said product specialist Nacer Achaichia.

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