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r1234 refrigerant

R1234yf Refrigerant

Copyright AA1Car March 2016

Auto makers are slowly moving toward a new refrigerant for automotive air conditioning systems. The new refrigerant is R1234yf (HFO-1234yf), and it will be phased in slowly over time starting with some 2014 model year vehicles. The new refrigerant is patented and manufactured in a joint venture between Honeywell and DuPont. Other manufacturers have also been licensed to produce the refrigerant. Honeywell markets the new refrigerant under the trademark Solstice YF. DuPont and European manufacturer Chemours is selling R1234yf under the trademark Opteon YF.

R1234yf has cooling properties that are similar to R134a, which has been used as an automotive refrigerant since it was introduced back in 1994 to 1995 to replace R12. R134a contains no CFCs, which are harmful to the Earth's protective ozone layer, but it does retain heat well and has a relatively high Global Warming Potential (GWP) rating of 1300.




IMPACT ON GLOBAL WARMING

Automotive refrigerants that leak out of A/C systems contribute very little to the overall global warming problem, only about 0.14% according to scientific estimates. Even so, when you multiply the millions of vehicles that are AC-equipped times even a small amount of refrigerant leakage over time, the numbers can add up. Some would argue that switching to a new refrigerant is unnecessary and will hardly make a dent in climate change. Others argue that it is all a conspiracy by DuPont and Honeywell to monopolize the world automotive refrigerant market by getting regulators to require a new low global warming potential refrigerant. R1234yf has a GWP rating of 4, which is over 350X less than R134a!

Politics and conspiracy theories aside, regulations have already been passed in Europe that will require the new refrigerant. The Europeans were considering CO2 (R744) because it has the lowest GWP rating of all: One! But A/C systems that operate using CO2 require extremely high pressures (1,800 to 2,200 PSI versus 300 to 400 PSI for R134a and R1234yf) and are much more expensive to manufacture.

The U.S. EPA has issued regulations that call for R134a to be phased out of domestic new car production by 2021. R134a will still be allowed for certain export vehicles, but only until 2025. After that, all new vehicles will have to use R134yf refrigerant. R-134a production will continue for servicing older vehicles.


The auto makers had agreed on moving ahead with R1234yf until Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) ran some tests that revealed R1234yf could ignite under certain special conditions. Based on the test findings, Mercedes and Volkswagen said no to the new refrigerant, but later reversed their stand. Toyota also balked at using the new refrigerant but eventually joined the party.

R1234yf is slightly flammable, but according to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the new refrigerant is safe for automotive passenger car use. The risk of fire is extremely remote in case of an accident or refrigerant leak into the passenger compartment.

To read the official SAE press release, Click Here.

hfo-1234yf refrigerant cooling performance chart .

HOW DOES R1234YF COMPARE TO R134A?

R1234yf has cooling performance that is similar to R134a but not quite as good. It is about 5 percent less efficient than R134a. It is not a simple drop-in substitute for R-134a because it requires a slightly larger or more efficient condenser and a more robust leak-resistant evaporator (for safety). R1234yf also requires a new type of compressor PAG oil, as well as new J2843 certified recovery and recycling equipment designed especially for the new refrigerant.

For more information, see HFO-1234yf Technical Information - Honeywell



R1234yf is VERY EXPENSIVE Stuff!

R1234yf is significantly more expensive than R134a because of limited supplies and the fact that Honeywell has a worldwide monopoly on their refrigerant. The current price as of July 2016 is around $660 to $675 for a 10 lb. container, which is $66 to $67 per pound! Ouch! This compares to a current retail price of around $5 for a small can of R134a. The price of R1234yf should slowly come down as production ramps up to meet a growing demand. Honeywell recently licensed a company in China (Juhua Corp.) to start making the refrigerant for the Asian market.

Other Alternative Refrigerants

Other hydrocarbon and hydrocarbon-blend refrigerants (such as propane, butane and others) have also been considered as alternative refrigerants, but would require some type of secondary loop cooling configuration and special safety features to keep the potentially explosive vapors away from the passenger compartment. Many states ban the use of flammable refrigerants in motor vehicles (except for use in refrigerated truck trailer cooling units).

R134A WILL CONTINUE FOR CURRENT VEHICLES AND OLDER VEHICLES

There are no plans to eliminate the production of R134a because it will still be needed to service older vehicles with R134a A/CV systems. Retrofitting R134a systems to R1234yf seems unlikely because of the difference in cost and cooling performance.

R-134a should only be used in R134a systems, and should NOT be used to top off a R1234yf system. Likewise, R-1234yf should NOT be used in an older R134a or R12 A/C system due to material compatibility and lubrication issues.

R1234yf A/C systems have their own unique service fittings (which are different from R12 and R134 fittings) to discourage accidental cross-contamination.

R1234YF SERVICE PRECAUTIONS

Because R1234yf is slightly flammable, an evaporator that is leaking MUST be replaced with a new unit. The installation of a used evaporator from a salvage vehicle is NOT allowed because there is a chance it might also leak, exposing the vehicle's occupants to potentially flammable vapor mixture.

Professional service equipment for R1234yf includes a leak check feature built into the recovery and recharging machine. The equipment also includes a refrigerant identifier to make sure the vehicle's A/C system contains R1234yf and not some other refrigerant.

If your a/C system is leaking, the leak MUST be fixed before the shop will recharge your A/C system with refrigerant.

R1234yf NEW CAR APPLICATIONS

The first U.S. vehicle to use R1234yf refrigerant was the 2013 Cadillac XTS. Cadillac also tried R1234yf in the Cadillac ATS, but stopped only one month into production because of A/C compressor noise and vibration issues. Early production ATS models were recalled and retrofitted back to R134a (which apparently works fine in an A/C system designed for R1234yf).

For model year 2014, R1234yf is used in the Jeep Cherokee, Chrysler 300, Dodge Ram 1500, and Dodge Charger, Challenger and Dart. It will also be used in the 2015 Chrysler 200.

Most auto makers are expected to have numerous R-1234yf applications by model year 2017 and beyond. Auto makers receive fuel economy credits for vehicles that are converted to R-1234yf, which helps them achieve the new higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements.


Update February 2015

R1234yf Vehicle Applications:

Here is a list of late model vehicles sold in North America that are using R1234yf refrigerant in their air conditioning systems:

BMW i3 Electric
Cadillac XTS (2013 and 2014)
Chevrolet Malibu
Chevrolet Spark EV (2014)
Chevrolet Trax
Chrysler 300 (2014)
Dodge Challenger (2014)
, Honda Fit EV (2013 and 2014)
Hyundai Santa Fe & i30
Ford Transit
Infinity Q50
Jeep Cherokee (2014)
Kia Sorento, Optima & Cadenza
Mazda CX-5
Mitsubishi Mirage
Range Rover and Range Rover Sport (2014)
Subaru BRZ, Forrester & Impreza






More Refrigerant Articles:

New Automotive Refrigerants

Alternative Refrigerants for R-12

Flammable Refrigerants

California proposes ban on R134a sales to motorists

Information about Retrofitting older vehicles with R-12 A/C systems to R-134a

Troubleshooting Air Conditioning Problems

How To Recharge Your Car's Air Conditioner

Refrigerant Contamination


To More Technical Info Click Here to See More Carley Automotive Technical Articles

Refrigerant Resources:

HFO-1234yf Technical Information - Honeywell

Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy (ARAP)

DuPont Refrigerants

EPA FAQs on Alternative Refrigerants


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