Researchers at German university Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU Munich) recommend that R1234yf be reassessed for its safety as the refrigerant releases the highly poisonous carbonyl fluoride in a fire, according to findings.
According to Sciencerecorder.com, Andreas Kornath, professor of Inorganic Chemistry at LMU Munich, said: “It has been known for some time now that combustion of R1234yf results in production of the toxic hydrogen fluoride.
“Our analysis has now shown that 20 per cent of the gases produced by combustion of the compound consist of the even more poisonous chemical carbonyl fluoride.”
The results were recently published the results of their investigation in the journal Zeitschrift für Naturforschung.
According to the CDC, carbonyl fluoride is structurally related to phosgene, which was used extensively during World War I as a choking (pulmonary) agent.
Carbonyl fluoride penetrates the skin and causes severe irritation of the eyes, skin and airways. If inhaled, it can damage the alveoli in the lungs, allowing it to reach the bloodstream and shut down vital functions.
According to guidelines issued by the EU, automobile manufacturers are required by law to use an environmentally friendly refrigerant in the air-conditioning systems installed in their automobiles. Use of the formerly approved refrigerant R134a in new automobile models has been prohibited in the EU since 2011, as the agent had been shown to add to the global warming in the atmosphere.
However, the recommended replacement R1234yf has already been the focus of much heated debate in Germany.
Studies conducted by a range of institutions and by German automobile manufacturers had pointed to the compound’s flammability, and shown that, in the event of accidents in which vehicles catch fire, combustion of R1234yf leads to the release of hydrogen fluoride.