Coolant In Daimler-EU Dispute Found Safe

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
coolant in daimler eu dispute found safe

An automotive coolant Daimler claims is too dangerous to use in their vehicles, despite the warnings from the European Union to cease usage of an older coolant considered harmful to the environment, was found to be safe according to a report made by EU scientists.

Reuters reports the coolant in question, the Honeywell and DuPont co-developed R1234yf, posed “no evidence of a serious risk in the use of [the] refrigerant in mobile air-conditioning systems under normal and foreseeable conditions of use” as reported by the Joint Research Council in their findings last week.

Daimler, who claimed the coolant emits a toxic gas when burned, defended their position against using R1234yf, claiming the research “too restrictive,” preferring an option to develop a system using carbon dioxide as the cooling method, though said system is years in the making.

Meanwhile, the automaker uses R134a, an older coolant that the European Commission has found to have a global warming potential 1,000 times that of carbon dioxide while developing an air-conditioning system; EU rules state new coolants must have no more than 150 times said potential. As a result, the Commission has begun legal proceedings against Germany over Daimler’s current action on the matter.

R1234yf is currently 500,000 cars according to Honeywell, who expects the coolant will be in more than 2 million units by the end of 2014.

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20 of 38 comments
  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Mar 11, 2014

    The original refrigerant, R12 (Freon) was the cheapest, safest, most efficient refrigerant in use for many years. Funny that R12 was deemed dangerous just about the time the patents ran out, and the newly-patented R134a was found to be less destructive of the ozone layer. Now that the patent is running out on R134a, it's more dangerous to ozone due to new regulations, and there's a newly-patented refrigerant available that does better. Freon was the most efficient, and the switch to R134a resulted in less efficient cooling. Chances are R1234yf is even less efficient than R134a. That seems to be the pattern, forcing customers (through automakers and AC companies) to pay more and more for less and less, and probably use more energy in the process. I'm not ready to doubt the science, but It's hard to trust the bureaucrats who write the regulations based on their interpretation of the science, especially when there's a lot of money involved with a sole source supplier. If there were a true investigative press anywhere, they wouldn't bother with the studies, and instead would be following the money.

    • See 9 previous
    • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Mar 14, 2014

      @golden2husky I think a lot of people would like to forget about how banning CFCs allowed the ozone layer to recover, or how reducing NOx and SO2 significantly reduced the smog and pretty much resolved acid rain. I mean, examples of effective regulation are anathaema to a certain world view.

  • Stuart Stuart on Mar 11, 2014

    If 1234yf is flammable, but legal, why not R290a + R600 (propane + iso-butane)? When hydrocarbon refrigerants burn, there's no toxic byproducts (burning HF-1234yf produces hydrogen fluoride), and hydrocarbons have negligible ozone and global warming potentials. Everyone freaks out because something might explode. Well, if I'm in a wreck, should I be more concerned about about a kilo of propane in the A/C, or 40+ kilos of gasoline in the fuel tank? Answering myself: because there are no patents on hydrocarbon refrigerants, and cars could be recharged with a dollar's worth of materials.

    • See 1 previous
    • Blue-S Blue-S on Mar 12, 2014

      According to the German VDA, R1234a is FAR less flammable than propane or isobutane. This is why the industry refers to R1234yf as "mildly flammable." R1234yf is only flammable in high concentrations on 6-12%, whereas propane and isobutane are flammable in concentrations around 2%. Also, propane and isobutane have a burn volocity of over 40 cm/second, compared with R1234yf's burn velocity of 1.5 cm/sec. Why would I be concerned about using a highly flammable refrigerant such as propane or isobutane in my car, when I currently carry around a large quantity of gasoline in the fuel tank? The refrigerant system is highly vulnerable: the condenser lives only inches behind the front bumper, is made of thin aluminum (by necessity for heat transfer) and has a LOT of surface area for potential contact with objects in a collision. The fuel system is rather well protected by comparison. More detail here:

  • Master Baiter Master Baiter on Mar 11, 2014

    These idiot regulators never perform a cost benefit analysis. For example, I'm paying 3X the national rate for electricity in CA because some idiot lawmakers decided CA needs to combat "global warming" by moving to alternative energy sources. How much "dirtier" would the air be if we built some friggin' coal plants to bring the price of electricity down? How much is the economy suffering because people are spending thousands of dollars a year more on their PG&E bills instead of this money being put into the economy in more efficient ways? People would never support these policies if a factual cost/benefit was performed up front.

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    • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Mar 12, 2014

      @dtremit Yes, I'm sure all the industry around Beijing adheres to the same emissions standards as a modern coal power plant.

  • 50merc 50merc on Mar 11, 2014

    Cost-benefit analysis is toxic to regulators. Statists, with their utopian and insatiable appetites for control, cannot allow rational analysis because they invariably depend upon stirring up panic to coerce compliance. ("Doom is near! Something must be done! Now! We can't afford to think about it!") AGW is the Holy Grail for regulation because carbon factors into every facet of existence. Hence, everything must be regulated. Well, almost everything. Volcanoes are the worst emitters, but they tend to ignore cease-and-desist orders.