DuPont and Honeywell have announced a global joint development agreement to accelerate the development and commercialisation of next generation, low global warming refrigerants for the automotive air conditioning industry.
The new refrigerants would enable car manufacturers to meet new regulations in Europe that require the use of low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants in mobile air conditioning (AC) applications. Today’s car air conditioners use hydrofluorocarbon (HFC)-134a. The new regulation is scheduled to take effect in 2011 for new model cars, with the transition complete by 2017.
Under the agreement, DuPont and Honeywell will jointly identify, develop, test and qualify new low GWP refrigerants that are cost-effective alternatives to other technologies being considered by the auto industry. Car manufacturers are currently evaluating mobile AC systems that use such technologies. Ideally, car manufacturers are seeking a commercially viable fluorinated gas solution that is compatible with conventional HFC-134a mobile air conditioning system technology.
DuPont and Honeywell plan to share resources, investment and technology as part of the agreement. The companies will work closely with the automotive industry to qualify a low GWP alternative by mid-2007.
According to industry estimates, there are more than 400 million cars with air conditioning systems globally, with each system using between one to two pounds of refrigerant. Air conditioning systems utilising fluorine-based refrigerants, such as those Honeywell and DuPont are seeking to develop, are more energy efficient than CO2-based air conditioning systems, particularly at high ambient temperature conditions.
Based on a test conducted by DuPont comparing mobile AC systems utilising DuPont’s low GWP replacement refrigerant and CO2, widespread uptake of a fluorine-based refrigerant could lead to worldwide emissions reduction equivalent to 230 million gallons of fuel per year by 2017.