Honeywell has reported that SAE International has deemed its new low-global-warming-potential mobile air conditioning refrigerant — HFO-1234yf — safe for use in motor vehicles.
SAE made the recommendation following an expanded and extensive evaluation.
According to Honeywell, SAE established a new Cooperative Research Project (CRP) to review the safety of the refrigerant following concerns voiced last year by Daimler and Volkswagen executives regarding the flammability of the product.
On Sept. 25, the German automotive manufacturer Daimler issued a press release suggesting that new testing conducted by the company had shown R-1234yf to pose a greater risk of vehicle fire than was estimated by the CRP1234 analysis. To address the Daimler claims, the new CRP (CRP1234-4) was organized in October and all of the OEMs were invited to attend.
The SAE International CRP stated that all 11 global automakers that participated in the project “have indicated agreement with these conclusions” (of the product’s safety,) and called testing conducted by Daimler late last year that raised questions about the refrigerant’s flammability “unrealistic.”
“After extensive testing and analysis, the new CRP concluded that the refrigerant release testing completed by Daimler was unrealistic,” the SAE CRP said in its final summary. “Their testing created extreme conditions that favored ignition while ignoring many mitigating factors that would be present in an actual real-world collision.”
“The conclusions from SAE’s latest expanded evaluation, combined with years of extensive testing in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere, again leaves no doubt that HFO-1234yf is safe for automotive applications,” said Ken Gayer, vice president and general manager for Honeywell Fluorine Products. “The fact that all 11 global automakers participating in the project agreed with the SAE CRP’s conclusions is further proof that this product can be used safely.”
OEs in agreement with the CRP1234-4 evaluation:
• General Motors
• Jaguar Land Rover
• Renault and
HFO-1234yf was previously the subject of comprehensive testing conducted by an SAE CRP from 2007 to 2009. That CRP, which was sponsored by 15 global automakers — including all leading German automakers, major suppliers and 18 international, independent research institutes — concluded that HFO-1234yf is safe for use in automobile applications.
SAE said its latest CRP’s evaluation was expanded “with input from Daimler … to realistically address” Daimler’s concerns. SAE said the CRP also reviewed and analyzed extensive new data from automakers and used “conservative assumptions” to ensure its analysis “would be more likely to overestimate rather than underestimate the actual risks” of the refrigerant igniting.
Even with those assumptions, the CRP found “risks are still very small compared to the risks of a vehicle fire from all causes and well below risks that are commonly viewed as acceptable by the general public.”