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SAE Tackles Research on Mobile Air-Conditioning Systems with Low Global-Warming Impact

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has launched a new Cooperative Research Program to develop mobile air-conditioning systems that are more efficient and less harmful to the environment.

Automakers have determined that new refrigerants must be screened and identified by the second quarter of 2007. The cooperative research will save the automotive industry extra costs, as companies will share the expense of evaluating new alternative refrigerants for use in air-conditioning systems.

The new Cooperative Research Programs include:

  • Risk Assessment (CRP150-1): Chemical and toxicology specialists will assess different chemicals as potential refrigerants.

  • Chemical Compatibility (CRP150-2): Laboratory evaluations will be conducted to see how new refrigerants react with common materials.

  • System Impact (CRP150-3): This program will work to understand the effects of new refrigerants on vehicle systems.

  • Service/Leakage (CRP150-4): Mobile air conditioning experts will address efficiency of new refrigerants.

  • Vehicle Durability (CRP150-5): Represented OEMs will supply vehicles to be tested in a variety of climatic regions with new refrigerants.

The following automakers have expressed interest in the programs: Audi, BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Nissan, Paccar, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Toyota, Volvo and Volkswagen.

Earlier this year, regulators from the European Commission, the US EPA Mobile Air Conditioning Climate Protection Partnership, and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced their intention to harmonize Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) testing and engineering standards to minimize leakages of fluorinated gases used in automobile air conditioning systems. (Earlier post.)




How about better insulation. Argon filled windows, maybe white or reflective window covers for when the car is parked etc.


Even cheaper: How about ventilated seats?

I would not want an argon filled window in my car. That makes it double pane and heavier...a heat rejection film "tuned" to specific wavelengths would probably be a better idea.

How about electrochromic windows? When the car is "OFF" the windows automatically change to a format that gives the best heat rejection qualities regardless of the visibility and amount of light which passes through. Upon starting, a current would change the windows back to normal driving mode.

Given that most A/C compressors are most efficient at a small rpm range and their efficiency is either compromised completely to allow wide rpm operating ranges or they are forced to operate outside of their efficient range a move to 42V systems allowing electric A/C compressors would be a good idea. Freedom in mounting locations would be another benefit of an electric a/c system.

Mark A

"How about electrochromic window? .........Upon starting, a current wouild change the windows back to normal driving mode."

Thats hilarious! The lawyers and Naders would never allow that! What would happen at 70mph if there was an electrical failure, or a blown fuse? I wouldnt want to be in a vehicle at 70 and not be able to see out!!

Back on subject, perhaps all the hydrogen we are carrying can be converted into refigerent somehow, without a chance of exploding, before it is consumed in an ICE or fuel cell. But where will the heat needed in winter come from?

Charles S

"Even cheaper: How about ventilated seats?"

I really like this idea, but not just because it could work for many, but that it is probably the easiest one to be added to the upcoming model year.

My worry is mainly public acceptance. I have read many reviews and opinions about automotive seats, and people can be very picky. When Nissan came out with the (Pulsar) NX seats, automotive reviewers really hated it. I'd love to try one out and see what the big fuzz was about. The design, the way it was made, would make it a candidate as a possible design for ventilated seats. It was described as using some kind of material stretched over a frame. I'd imagine it would be like an Aeron Chair, but maybe not a see-through design...


JimO is on the money. I have a simple white cardboard sunscreen that is trimmed to fit my windshield very well. It amazes me how cool the car stays when I aim it directly at the sun to take maximum advantage of the sunscreen. Small solar powered ventilating fans are a possibility, though I've never used one. Ventilated seats are a good idea, but there's a lot to be said for a breathable fabric as opposed to plastic. Leather is not too bad, but not as cool as most fabric. Tinted windows are popular in desert areas. The electrochromic idea is interesting but as noted above would probably never fly unless a fail-safe design that allowed partial visibility on failure were developed. Tuned coatings that reflect IR are probably a more reasonable approach. Some cars would benefit from better thermal insulation as well.


Mark A,

Please do some basic research before attempting to lambast an idea especially when you obviously don't understand the technology. It would take an additional current to re-"deploy" the darkening effect similar to "E-ink". I guess you and your buddies better go after the luxury cars which currently employ electrochromic glass. It is hillarious when ignorance prevails.

allen Z

Charles S,
Another advantage may be lighter seats, which may save fuel, as well as wear and tear on the car itself. Another possiblity would be ducting a small amount of AC into the seat for direct cooling, or in the winter, heating.


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