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New automotive refrigerant a cool way to reduce greenhouse gases

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While Dupont and Honeywell say their new 1234yf refrigerant for automotive air conditioner compressors “ has a global warming potential of 1, and an industrywide switch would be equivalent to eliminating 30 million cars' worth of greenhouse gas emission,” German automaker Daimler threw a monkey wrench into the industry’s enthusiasm for the change by showing 1234yf catching fire and spewing toxic gas into the passenger compartment of a Mercedes-Benz B-class hatchback back in 2012. Validity of the tests, however, were highly questioned by SAE International, along with participation from the GM, Ford and Chrysler, as well as several Asian automakers, who’s own tests have concluded that 1234yf is "safe and effective," and are already refitting some of their models to incorporate it. These include the new Jeep Cherokee, the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger, ad well as the Dodge Dart, Ram 1500, and Cadillac XTS and Honda Fit EV

"We're a strong supporter of 1234yf as the new environmentally friendly refrigerant for the industry," avered Michael Rinaldi, a senior manager for HVAC systems at Chrysler.

In addition, the EPA is encouraging automakers to comply with new fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards by offering tradable credits for all vehicles that use the new refrigerant.

Meanwhile, Daimler has been joined by VW AG and BMW in advocating CO2-based air conditioning systems, which would view as “safer because it is a naturally occurring substance.” The problem, however, is that CO2 coolants would force compressors to draw more power from the engines, which would end up, “hurting fuel economy”, says Peter Coll, managing director of Neutronics, a maker of HVAC testing equipment.

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