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Honeywell says new evaluation of HFO-1234yf automotive refrigerant will reconfirm the product is safe

17 December 2012

Honeywell said on December 17 it was confident that SAE International, recognised as the world’s leading automotive engineering association, will reconfirm that HFO-1234yf, Honeywell’s new low-global-warming-potential automotive air conditioning refrigerant, is safe for use in automobiles.

Honeywell says its new HFO-1234yf, which is designed to be an environmentally friendly replacement of R134a refrigerant (pictured) now used in automobiles worldwide, will be proved safe in new SAE tests
Honeywell says its new HFO-1234yf, which is designed to be an environmentally friendly replacement of R134a refrigerant (pictured) now used in automobiles worldwide, will be proved safe in new SAE tests

The company was responding to reports that the German Daimler and VW car groups have decided not to use the product because of safety concerns.

SAE International, in announcing an update on its fourth and latest Cooperative Research Project (CRP) on the refrigerant, said, “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,” SAE International said.

“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 U.S. and Japan – that have clearly and repeatedly determined that HFO-1234yf is safe for use in automobiles,” said Dr. Ian Shankland, chief technology officer for Honeywell Performance Materials and Technologies. “HFO-1234yf is a safe and effective refrigerant, and it is better for the environment.”

SAE International, formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers, is an independent, global association of more than 133,000 engineers and related technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries. 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 a highly efficient, low-global-warming refrigerant that was developed as a direct replacement to HFC-134a in mobile air-conditioning applications. Compared with HFC-134a, HFO-1234yf offers a 99.7 percent improvement in global warming potential and far exceeds the European Union Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) Directive requirement.

Under rare 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. For a video on this topic, which includes a comparison of HFO-1234yf vs. HFC-134a and other materials, visit www.1234facts.com/resources or www.1234fakten.de/ressourcen.

SAE International’s previous research projects have addressed the issue of flammability, employing proven and universally accepted 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. 






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