Refrigerant used to cool cars

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Honeywell and Dupont have formed a joint venture to manufacture a new refrigerant for use in automotive air-conditioning systems.

Dupont and Honeywell will share financial and technological resources with the intent to jointly design, construct and operate a manufacturing facility for the refrigerant, known as HFO-1234yf.

The product meets EU regulatory requirements for lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants for automobile air-conditioning systems. Dupont and Honeywell developed the product jointly but will market and sell it separately.

The venture follows an earlier joint-development agreement under which the two companies developed the product. The joint venture is designed to provide Dupont and Honeywell with a source of supply to meet the growing demand faster than would be possible through either company’s individual efforts.

Today’s automotive air conditioners use hydrofluorocarbon HFC-134a, which has a GWP of 1430. The EU’s Mobile Air Conditioning Directive requires that, starting in 2011, all new vehicle models use a refrigerant with a GWP below 150 and, by 2017, all new automobiles sold in Europe will be required to use a low-GWP refrigerant.

The refrigerant, developed by Dupont and Honeywell, has a GWP of four, which is 97 per cent less GWP than the new regulation requires.

Prior to construction of a world-scale plant, the joint venture will begin supplying the refrigerant in the fourth quarter of 2011, in time to meet the EU regulatory requirement.

Honeywell and Dupont introduced HFO-1234yf to the automotive industry in 2007 and since then it has undergone extensive testing for safety and efficacy by independent testing groups such as the SAE International Cooperative Research Program, in which leading automakers participate.

According to industry estimates, there are more than 400m cars with air-conditioning systems globally, with each system using between one half and one kilogram of refrigerant.