However, usage of R134a has been stopped in the European Union this year onward as it’s viewed upon as a potent global warming agent that was banned throughout the European Union from the start of this year.
R134a has been popularly used for many years and is cheaper than the newer alternative but at the the same time more harmful for the environment. There’s no alternative other than both aforementioned coolants. In fact, last year Daimler did issue a recall of Mercedes-Benz cars that used R1234yf. Daimler’s refusal to switch to the newly available refrigerant saw France stop registrations of Mercedes A-Class, B-Class and SL cars assembled after June.
On July 17th, EU governments agreed that enough must be done to ensure all vehicles adhered to rules. At this points, almost all automakers have taken steps in compliance with the MAC Directive. Daimler is the only automaker that has raised a concern about using HFO-1234yf. As per Honeywell, ‘Daimler’s concerns are based on testing conducted without the participation of a reputable 3rd party, and without consultation with others in the auto industry, about 3 months in advance of the MAC Directive’s implementation date.
In regards to flammability of HFO-1234yf, Honeywell said any fluorocarbon-oil mixture used in a refrigerant application can be combustible under a conducive situation. This would hold true even for HFC-134a, which has been used safely in vehicles for decades. They reiterate that studies reveal HFO-1234yf is in a big way less combustible than materials including lubricating oils, gasoline or diesel fuels, brake and transmission fluid found in larger quantities under the hood.
Also, industry safety experts agree that ‘appropriate vehicle design further minimizes refrigerant combustion risks’. SAE International concludes vehicle fire is 300,000 times more likely to be caused for reasons unrelated to refrigerant used. They also confirm ‘no significant risk caused by using HFO-1234yf’.
Taking about HFO-1234yf safety, Honeywell confirms the refrigerant underwent comprehensive testing through a 3 year period under the Cooperative Research Program (CRP) of SAE International. This process was sponsored by 15 global automakers, which includes leading German automakers too. he study concluded ‘that HFO-1234yf is safe for use in automobile applications’. A subsequent follow-up study drew the same inference. As the very public spat continues, the European Commission will mediate the dispute.