• Oct 24th 2009 at 11:43AM
  • 12
What the heck is HFO-1234yf? That's the name of a new refrigerant that's reportedly 350-times less damaging to the atmosphere than the current HFC-134a (or 1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane, if you prefer). You may recall that today's refrigerant was actually put into widespread use back in the early 1990s as a replacement for the long-running R12 that was found to be collecting in and damaging our delicate ozone layer.

Well, it turns out that HFC-134a isn't as good a solution as hoped for. As such, the refrigerant has been banned in Europe beginning in 2011 and it seems likely the United States will follow suit. Enter HFO-1234yf, also known as 2,3,3,3-Tetrafluoropropene.

The new refrigerant was co-developed by DuPont and Honeywell and has already been approved for use in Japan and Europe for automotive air conditioners. Earlier this week, the United States EPA issued a proposal to approve a replacement for HFC-134a, and this new stuff is seen as a likely substitute.

[Source: EPA via Green Car Advisor]


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  • 12 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Look at the picture...No fresh air for you!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Another victory for the lobbyists.

      LPG is used as fuel for many cars all over the world. But when you use it as a coolant it's unsafe ???
      CO2 as a coolant needs a few high pressure components. But an expensive chemical is more cost effective ???
        • 5 Years Ago
        LPG blows up. And catches on fire. Car cooling loops aren't built sturdily enough to survive 300,000 miles without having a leak risk. Car engines have millions of potential sparks shooting out that, when your LPG coolant system leaks, you just died. Dead people for cool car interiors? I'm not buying that car. Are you?

        As for CO2 as a refrigerant, you need much more than you need hydrofluorocarbons to maintain the same cooling. And when your system leaks, you get very sleepy while your hemoglobin sucks up the CO2 and you're starting to drive erratically, and officer friendly is now pulling you over for DUI. You won't die in this scenario, but that loss of your license just destroyed the justification for that $50k car you just bought. And not to mention the fact that you probably just lost your job.

        They're still experimenting with the temperatures need to chill the CO2 and they might be a lot lower than what is needed for 1234yf. Cars chill refrigerants by compression. More compression equals more parasitic losses. Which equals less mileage. Is this a good idea? Most auto manufacturers think not.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hemoglobin doesn't suck up CO2, you're thinking of CO.
      • 5 Years Ago
      All three major refrigerant manufacturers, DuPont, Honeywell, and Arkema are actively working on this project. Arkema has already announced a manufacturing plant in Pierre Benite, France to manufacture 1234yf.

      Get used to the higher pricing. 134 won't be on the market much longer as a commodity refrigerant. Europe is pushing new car manufacturers over the next eight years to switch to 1234yf, and won't allow 134a in new cars. EPA's greenhouse gas endangerment finding will force new car manufacturers into the same boat, where the least dangerous GHG becomes the technology. And, if Congress doesn't pass legislation by March 31, this will become the law of the United States with no further action (other than EPA reading the comments).

      Compared to the other cost increases in cars that the manufacturers will need to do to meet GHG rules, this will seem cheap by comparison.

      I remind you that cars typically only contain 2-3 pounds of the stuff. Might need a bit more with this molecule, but the total investment for a new system will be between $75 and $150. Specialty chemicals cost a lot to make.
      • 5 Years Ago
      From Edmunds.com:

      "In case you were wondering, nobody makes HFO 1234yf in commercial quantities yet, but refrigerant manufacturers told the EPA they'd be ready when the market is.

      Oh, and the stuff is supposed to cost more than the stuff it replaces, which, of course, cost more than the stuff it replaced.

      That's in part because manufacturing HFO 1234yf requires more energy - although apparently not enough to offset its clean-air benefits."

      From what I've been able to find, it will cost ~$35/Pound, from the calculation of 75 euro/kg. I don't remember what R134a costs, but I don't think it's close to this.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Hi Justin, Indeed YF is expensive but could you tell me the source form where i can buy this gas?
      • 5 Years Ago
      R134a and all the current HCFC refrigerants were always considered transitional, because they still are big ozone destroyers, just being hydrogenated they are too heavy to easily rise to the upper layers of the atmosphere. It was always considered that these would be abandoned and banned when non-ozone destroying refrigerants were found.
        • 5 Years Ago
        1234yf is yet another transitional refrigerant, 350 times less harmful than 134a, but not benign. CO2 or water as refrigerants are ideal as they are benign, and very cheap, just that they require expensive compressors (titanium, turbos, etc.). They are also said to be more efficient overall (they require higher compression but give even more cooling to more than make up for the extra compression energy used).

        As far as leaks, CO2 has almost identical effects as R134a (asphyxiation, pushes out oxygen, irritates throat, can get frost bite from contact with liquid/solid form). A/C or refrigerator leaks are usually way too slow to have any physiological effects. 134a autoignites at 1369 deg F, 1234yf at 761 F (a spark or electric arc could ignite it but because most leaks are so slow there isn't likely to be enough concentration to ignite). CO2 is not flammable in practical terms (you can burn it with burning metals like magnesium, but by itself it will not autoignite).
      • 5 Years Ago
      [1] ...at $40-$60 per pound ? ...yeah right
      [2] ...certain situations can cause concentrations in the passenger compartment ABOVE the lower flammability limit ? ..."smoke 'em if ya got 'em" takes on a whole new meaning now

      ...is this really the BEST SNAP could do ?
        • 5 Years Ago
        "..at $40-$60 per pound ? ...yeah right"

        Isn't that what HFC-134a cost when it was first thrust upon us?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think R134a is worst for the environment than R12. R134a damages the parts, giving a life expectancy 1/3rd as that of an R12 air conditioner or refrigerator.