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German auto industry gives backing to refrigerant

German car manufacturers are reported to have given their backing to the new refrigerant HFO-1234yf thus paving the way for the worldwide acceptance of the gas as a replacement for R134a in car air conditioning systems.

German car manufacturers are reported to have given their backing to the new refrigerant HFO-1234yf thus paving the way for the worldwide acceptance of the gas as a replacement for R134a in car air conditioning systems.

The decision, which has come under harsh criticism from German environmental groups, is said to have been made in May and represents a marked u-turn on their previous support for CO2. While other car manufacturing countries had given implicit support for the new HFO, German manufacturers maintained their preference for CO2 as the preferred replacement for R134a once it is banned in new models of cars in Europe from January 2011.

However, change began to appear last May, when Matthias Wissmann, president of the German car manufacturers association VDA, expressed his association’s desire for a ‘global standard.’

“In the opinion of the VDA,” he said, “it is very unlikely that investigation of natural and chemical refrigerants can be done in parallel and impossible for the Germans or Europeans to develop a solution of their own, in view of the state of the global market.” He called for a worldwide standard and maintained that separate individual solutions were not an option, HFO-1234yf has a GWP of just 4 but environmentalists have raised concerns over its possible flammability. German environmental group DUH has called for Wissmann to resign.

HFO-1234yf and other HFOs are currently being investigated as potential low GWP replacements for HFCs in some stationary AC&R applications.

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