Coming soon to a car AC near you: a cooler coolant. The Environmental Protection Agency recently approved a new chemical that can drastically reduce the amount of harmful, ozone-depleting emissions from motor vehicle air conditioning systems.
The eco-friendly refrigerant uses a new chemical developed by Honeywell and DuPont—HFO-1234yf—that the agency and the companies say does not deplete the ozone layer. And when used appropriately, the chemical has a global warming potential that is 99.7 percent less than the current chemical (HFC–134a) used in most car air conditioners.
“It is homegrown innovative solutions like this that save lives and strengthen our economy.” says Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation in an EPA release.
EPA says its recently issued standards for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from light-duty motor vehicles “provide an opportunity for automakers to receive credit for adopting a chemical with less climate impact as a cost-effective way to meet the new standards.
“Using HFO-1234yf is one option available to automakers.”
The new chemical is the product of a joint manufacturing venture of Honeywell and DuPont. The venture was launched last May and several months later General Motors said it would introduce the refrigerant in 2013 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models.
The biggest benefit of HFO-1234yf is that it breaks down faster in the atmosphere than the currently used R-134a. On average, the R-134a refrigerant has an atmospheric life of more than 13 years, giving it a global warming potential (GWP) of more than 1,400. By comparison, the new refrigerant lingers in the atmosphere for only 11 days and has a GWP of 4, a 99.7 percent improvement.
GWP is a value used to compare different greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. The base measurement for GWP is relative to that of carbon dioxide (CO2).
Maybe there can be better living through chemicals, or at least better cooling.