Compared with the dynamics of the introduction by manufacturers of new lubricants and working fluids, changes in the field of refrigerants are much more conservative.
Until 1992, R12 freon (CFC, difluorodichloromethane) was widely used as a refrigerant in automotive air conditioners, but its effect on the ozone layer was considered destructive, and as a result, automakers and car services gradually and completely painlessly switched to R134a (HFC, tetrafluoroethane).
But after the topic of so-called “global warming”, R134a was also recognized as unsafe. European Directive EC 2006/40 / EC prescribed that from 2011 all new cars and vans built for use in the EU and equipped with air conditioning must use refrigerant with a global warming potential (GWP) of 150 or lower, and models with old homologation may issued until 2017. On the GWP scale, a value of 1 corresponds to carbon dioxide CO2, and R134a has a GWP of 1430.
Carbon dioxide itself is also capable of acting as a refrigerant (R-744), but it does not work well in hot climates and requires much higher operating pressures (which is both unsafe and inevitably leads to increased fuel consumption). In the late 2000s, Honeywell and DuPont introduced the new R1234yf refrigerant (HFO-1234yf, hydrofluoroolefin) with GWP 4.
The car service market again, as in the transition from R-12 to R-134a, has a rather long period of parallel existence of systems for different types of refrigerants. Are services ready for servicing modernized air conditioning systems?
The first appearance of the R1234yf raised concerns about its fire safety, but environmental considerations turned out to be more priority. To warn auto service personnel, relevant information on the flammability of the refrigerant appeared on the stickers in the car, some manufacturers have placed warning symbols on the protective caps of the fittings.
Service connectors on systems with R134a and R1234yf nearly identical, but small differences still will not allow to fill the modern system with another refrigerant (you cannot mix these two types).
Connectors for R1234yf (left) and R134a (right)
To work with R1234yf, the service will require either a second gas station, or, more optimally, a universal two-component one designed for both types (with separate tanks and separate hoses for evacuation and filling).
Currently, the ability to service systems with the R1234yf still looks like a definite competitive advantage. On the other hand, the cost of a new refrigerant is now significantly (several times) higher than even a high-quality R134a, therefore, during after-sales service, customers may prefer a relatively simple conversion of their car to a more affordable R-134a in all respects (according to performance, they are R1234yf are close).
A special Autodata Online module dedicated to servicing air conditioners provides car service employees with all the technical information (approved by the car manufacturer) that is necessary for the safe and efficient maintenance of air conditioning systems using both types of refrigerants.
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