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European Commission seeks to settle carmakers' arguments with technical review of R1234yf

EC commisisons Joint Research Centre to review German KBA findings and invites all stakeholders to discuss technical aspects of refrigerant’s safety in bid to reassure jittery elements of car market

The Commission has invited participation in a working group on ‘safety aspects of the use of refrigerant 1234yf on MAC systems.’ as it seeks to restore clarity to the use of the new refrigerant.

The challenge over the past year from carmaker Daimler, endorsed by the German transport authority, to the safe replacement of R134a with the lower-GWP alternative, has threatened to undermine the authority of the Mobile Air Conditioning Directive.

The Commission is now responding to the recent report from German testing body KBA, commissioned by the German transport authority to test the safety of the refrigerant. The KBA report has been seen by most stakeholders as giving the thumbs-up to safe use of R1234yf, but Daimler believes it endorses its concerns over the refrigerant. This is in spite of the safe use being approved by carmakers’ research body SAE International, whose Co-operative Research Program comprised most global carmakers.

So in a bid, it would appear, to settle the argument once and for all, the European Commission has commissioned its own research ‘to provide clarity about the testing plans, procedures and results of the enhanced analysis of the risks involved in the use of refrigerant R1234yf in mobile air-conditioning systems carried out by KBA.’ The Commission said: “It was considered that this could best be achieved through a technical and scientific review, by the JRC, of the KBA testing procedures, considering also the risk assessment performed by the SAE and other testing procedures developed by the suppliers, manufacturers and associations.’

The JRC will now discussions with relevant stakeholders on all sides of the argument during the review..The Commission stresses: “This consultation process is essential to provide for transparency and confidence in the process, but does not entail the approval by the stakeholders of the JRC report.”

“Therefore, on behalf of the European Commission, DG ENTR and the JRC request industry stakeholders and institutions which have undergone relevant testing procedures and risk assessments and may provide further information useful for the process, to participate in this process and communicate the relevant information available”.

“The interested stakeholders should be ready to participate in three technical meetings on

  • 20 November (Brussels),
  • 11 December (Brussels) and
  • 15 January 2014 (Ispra).

These meetings will have a purely scientific/technical character. Participants should contribute with technical expertise to the discussions. There may be limitations to participation due to the capacity of the meeting rooms.”

If you would like to participate or need further information, e-mail: alexandra.sa-carvalho@ec.europa.eu.

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