• Apr 3rd 2008 at 11:09AM
  • 5
Even though the older types of refrigerant like Dichlorodifluoromethane (R-12) have been replaced with newer types like Tetrafluoroethane (R-134a), your car's air conditioning system could still be damaging to the environment. While not as harmful as the older refrigerants, recent research suggests that R-134a refrigerant is collecting in our atmosphere and could be contributing to global climate change. Therefore, the Mobile Air Conditioning Society Worldwide (MACS) has issued a press release, pasted after the break, that reminds consumers to be careful with their AC system maintenance. The refrigerant in your AC system can be captured, cleaned and recycled, and it's irresponsible to allow your refrigerant to leak out, simply refilling it when it's not blowing cold enough for your liking. Additionally, be sure that the technician working on your car knows it's illegal to vent it out into the air without recapturing it.
Press Release:

The Green Facts About Your Car's Air Conditioning System

LANSDALE, Pa., April 1 -- Your car's air conditioning system uses a chemical refrigerant under pressure to make the interior cool. The Mobile Air Conditioning Society Worldwide (MACS) wants you to know about the environmental damage chemical refrigerants can create when the system is not serviced properly. Proper handling of these chemicals can help the environment and save you money.

It used to be common practice to simply release refrigerant to the atmosphere during service. The chemicals were inexpensive and thought to be benign in the atmosphere. But research showed that the chemicals damaged the ozone layer above the Earth.

The automotive industry found new refrigerants, and in the mid-1990s air conditioning service changed forever. The United States Clean Air Act required all technicians working on a vehicle's air conditioning system to be tested and certified on their knowledge of refrigerant recovery and recycling procedures.

There are many EPA-accepted refrigerants -- the most common one is called R-134a -- but they are not always interchangeable. Mixing, or cross-contamination, can result in system leaks and expensive failures. Labels under the hood list the recommended refrigerant and how much to install.

Although the newer refrigerants are ozone friendly, they are now suspected of contributing to global warming in the Earth's atmosphere. Keeping these chemicals out of the air has become even more important than before. It's not hard to do, and many repair shops have the equipment.

By law, refrigerants from vehicles must be captured (recovered) during service, and must be cleaned of impurities (recycled) before being put back into the car. It is illegal to release these chemicals into the air, and violators may face heavy fines. Ask your service shop about industry-approved recovery and recycling machines, and the technicians' certifications.

Refrigerant can be expensive; why pump it in to let it leak out? The practice of just refilling a leaking system is irresponsible. No federal regulation currently prohibits this practice, but any leak should be repaired to insure best cooling and environmental responsibility.

When your car needs air conditioning repairs, ask questions to be sure the technicians are following the service guidelines and using the correct refrigerants.

[Source: MACS]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      One problem with most auto air conditioners is that the compressor is driven by a shaft with a rotating seal that wears and eventually leaks.

      Electrically powered A/C and refrigeration is usually a enclosed system with no rotating seals, thus leaks are extremely rare and they last a very long time.

      Fortunately, we are starting to see electric A/C being used for cars, starting with hybrids and electrics. That will reduce leaks and increase reliability.
      • 8 Months Ago
      The EU is working toward phasing out R-134a (100-year GWP 1430) in favor of R-744 aka liquid CO2 (GWP 1), but this involves mush higher operating pressures and therefore, entirely new systems.

      US and UK chemical companies are pushing for compounds that are more benign than R-134a but still drop-in replacements for it.

      A third option is to use waste heat from the coolant and/or exhaust. Unfortunately, implementations of both approaches are still quite bulky and expensive.

      Membrane materials for compact, vibration resistant adsorption chillers:

      Theory and construction of free-piston Vuilleumier machines (in German; chapter 5.4, appendix 4):
      • 8 Months Ago
      I believe that todays refrigerant is worst for the enviroment than the old freon. Old refrigerators and air conditionars can last over 30 years, while todays (refrigerators and air conditionars) have less than 10 years of life.
      • 8 Months Ago
      People don't care. That's the bottom line....they simply do not care.

      People will not spend a single dime on A/C maintenance and leak repairs. They'd rather fill up over and over again rather than fix it.

      People along with the big companies are the ones responsible for the environmental mess they are in now. No one else is to blame. That's what happens when you shit in your own living room. It's just too bad irresponsible people can't be shipped off to another hell hole planet so they can shit as much as they want on themselves and suffer by themselves.
      • 8 Months Ago
      armmat:"People along with the big companies are the ones responsible for the environmental mess they are in now. No one else is to blame."

      Who else is left?
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