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Honeywell confident 4th SAE evaluation of R-1234yf will reconfirm product safety

15 December 2012

Following SAE International’s update on its fourth and latest Cooperative Research Project (CRP) on the refrigerant R-1234yf (earlier post), Honeywell, the developer, said it is confident that SAE will reconfirm that the new low-global-warming-potential automotive air conditioning refrigerant, is safe for use in automobiles.

In its brief update, SAE noted that “To date, the majority of the OEMs involved in the new CRP do not believe that any of the new information reviewed will lead to a change in the overall risk assessment. With the exception of Daimler, no OEM in the CRP has provided information that would suggest a concern for the safe use of R-1234yf in their vehicles.

Based on today’s announcement, Honeywell continues to believe that SAE International’s latest evaluation will only reconfirm the overwhelming body of data—including rigorous and comprehensive studies conducted in Europe, the US and Japan—that have clearly and repeatedly determined that HFO-1234yf is safe for use in automobiles. HFO-1234yf is a safe and effective refrigerant, and it is better for the environment.

—Dr. Ian Shankland, chief technology officer for Honeywell Performance Materials and Technologies

Previously, HFO-1234yf was the subject of comprehensive testing conducted over a three-year period under an SAE International CRP using proven, standard methods for evaluating new products and materials in automobiles. That CRP, which was sponsored by 15 global automakers, including all leading German automakers, concluded that HFO-1234yf is safe for use in automobile applications.

HFO-1234yf is an efficient, low-global-warming refrigerant that was developed as a direct replacement to HFC-134a in mobile air-conditioning (MAC) applications. Compared with HFC-134a, HFO-1234yf offers a 99.7% improvement in global warming potential and far exceeds the European Union Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) Directive requirement.

Under certain conditions, HFO-1234yf exhibits mild flammability, at levels significantly lower than highly flammable materials already present under the hood of an automobile, including motor oil, automotive transmission fluid, radiator antifreeze, brake fluid, and compressor lubricant—not to mention fuel, Honeywell argued.

SAE International’s previous research projects have addressed the issue of flammability, employing fault-tree risk assessment techniques to evaluate the real-world possibility of a fire and human impact. SAE International said in its latest statement that it has expanded its fault-tree assessment in the new CRP to “ensure that newly-identified information and testing from each of the OEMs is incorporated.”

As part of SAE International’s programs, internationally recognized laboratories—including Hughes Associates Inc. and France’s Institute National de l’Environment Industriel et des Risques (INERIS)—conducted extensive testing on flammability and safety, and all concluded that HFO-1234yf is safe for use in automobiles, Honeywell said.

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Comments

Honeywell should forfeit their lobby and do something sensible e.g.:
http://spin-project.eu/index.php?node_id=58.29&lang_id=1
All these senseless discussions about this or that refrigerant are completely irrelevant. Apparently, those involved in such needless discussions, have never heard of the Schukey-motor.
The only problem with this motor is Honeywells attitude, "it's not invented by us".

Is Mercedes the only one who really cares? What are the other users saying?

Is it normal for the manufacturer (Honeywell) to defend its product, even if it represents a safety hazard?

Tobacco Cos are saying the same thing during the current $27B law suit?

They're so concerned about a bit of flammability when they could be using a sealed unit with a bit of isobutane and a microchannel heat exchanger dumping heat to radiator coolant.  The evaporator core could be a heat pipe using CO2 going to another microchannel heat exchanger.  With just a few ounces of flammable fluid in a nearly-indestructible welded housing, both the GWP and fire hazard could be reduced so close to zero as to make no difference.

These systems must be affordable.

R12 or R22 may not be flammable at atmospheric pressure, however if exposed to an open flame they make Phosgene, a nerve gas.

Many auto fuel system contain gasoline, also very flammable.

In the not too distant future, gasoline, Diesel fuel and CNG ICE will be replaced with high performance secure batteries and e-motors.

Future higher performance on-board heat pumps will have to use high efficiency secure non-polluting coolant gas or liquid.

No doubt that chemical companies will find a better solution during the current decade.

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