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Supply of R134a to remain tight into 2011

Supply of R134a will remain ‘tight as a drum’ for the remainder of the year and into 2011, according to refrigerant suppliers at Chillventa.

The cocktail of high demand and raw materials shortage will see continued cost and supply issues with the refrigerant and its blends, particularly the R400 series.

Suppliers stressed that carmakers were doing their utmost to get new model launches approved before the MAC (mobile air conditioning) directive phases out R134a for cars, stretching supply of the gas globally. Honeywell commercial director Paul Sanders said: “As an industry we have to work together to even out demand. It will be tight till 2011. In terms of costs, it would be true to say that the value of R134a hadn’t really been realised before.”

Mexichem Fluor commercial director Simon Gardner added that costs would remain high as refrigerant raw materials costs were continuing to climb. “The cost of trichloroethylene has gone up fourfold, due to the cost of manufacture, so these costs are not going to go away.”

“The demand from countries like China and India remains an unknown, suppliers said, which could further impact on the cost of 134a and its blends in Europe. One added: “We have seen Chinese producers not selling into the UK recently, because they can get better costs elsewhere globally.”

Refrigerant producers unveiled their plans for refrigerants based on newly developed HFOs at Chillventa (see p27), but production schedules depend on the commitment of carmakers. Mr Sanders said: “One firm GM, has announced it is launching with HFOs, while two others have committed, but don’t want their names revealed.”

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