Honeywell is pressing ahead with the supply of R1234yf and has hit back at the controversy created by Daimler in rejecting the gas on flammability grounds.
While a shortage of the new gas had previously delayed implementation of the MAC directive in Europe, Honeywell announced increased supplies of the new low GWP gas last autumn and has confirmed that the product is now available for car makers in Europe, the USA and Asia.
"More oems are coming to us now and volumes are starting to pick up," Honeywell's md for Fluorine Products in Europe, Middle East, Africa and India told ACR News.
And the flammability concerns? "Flammability is not an issue except with one particular car manufacturer," he confidently maintained. "There are many flammables under the bonnet of a car and the car industry knows how to handle these things."
Paul Sanders pointed to the enormous amount of testing previously carried out both independently and by the car manufacturers themselves that had given 1234yf a clean bill of health.
"All the major approval bodies have said it is safe," said Paul Sanders. "The flammability discussion is old news. One has to question the motives of one company in trying to rip up European law. The actions of one company has thrown into doubt 3-4 years of independent work and what are the reasons behind it?"
Needless to say, Honeywell is convinced that 1234yf gives the best environmental performance as a replacement for R134a, but are there any alternatives?
"Everyone understands that hydrocarbons are extremely flammable and not suitable for use in cars. CO2 is less efficient and temperature dependent [at higher ambients the gas is increasingly inefficient]. It's also a high pressure gas, needing modifications to the air conditioning system, putting more weight in the car and leading to inferior fuel economy."
But R1234yf is a more expensive refrigerant than R134a is this likely to change? "The product has gone through 10 years of r&d and there has been significant investment in building new plant," explains Paul Sanders. "On top of that, yf is the most complicated molecule to make.
"We are looking for full engagement from oems so we can right-size the plant appropriately. Price depends on volume evolutions."