• Jul 23rd 2010 at 5:59PM
  • 16
There are some people who cool their cars down with ice, but General Motors thinks drivers like standard air conditioning. Since the refrigerant used in most automotive air conditioning systems is not good for the environment, GM is proud to announce it will use a better type of refrigerant (called HFO-1234yf) in its vehicles that it says only stays in the atmosphere for 11 days. The standard R-134a refrigerant, GM says, has an atmospheric life of more than 13 years. This is bad because, as Wiki says:
[R-134a] has insignificant ozone depletion potential (ozone layer), significant global warming potential (100-yr GWP = 1430) and negligible acidification potential (acid rain).
That GWP in the sentence above stands for "global warming potential," and is based on the GWP measurement relative to CO2. Higher numbers are worse and GM's new refrigerant has a GWP of just 4 (yes, four), a huge improvement. The EPA approves of the use of HFO-1234yf and GM will be able to "significantly exceed" new motor vehicle greenhouse gas regulations thanks to regulatory credits the EPA will issue. Press release after the jump.

[Source: GM]

PRESS RELEASE

GM First to Market Greenhouse Gas-Friendly Air Conditioning Refrigerant in U.S.
Breaks Down Faster in Atmosphere but Keeps Vehicles as Cool as Today

2010-07-23

WARREN, Mich. – General Motors Co. will introduce a new greenhouse gas-friendly air-conditioning refrigerant in 2013 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models in the U.S. that keeps vehicle interiors as cool as today while reducing heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere by more than 99 percent.

The biggest benefit of the new refrigerant, (HFO-1234yf) supplied by Honeywell, is that it breaks down faster in the atmosphere than the refrigerant currently used (R-134a), On average, R-134a refrigerant has an atmospheric life of more than 13 years, giving it a global warming potential (GWP) of over 1,400.

By comparison, the new refrigerant lingers in the atmosphere for just 11 days and has a GWP of only 4, a 99.7 percent improvement. GWP is a value used to compare different greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. The base measurement for GWP is relative to that of carbon dioxide (CO2).

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awards regulatory credit for the improved environmental performance of the new refrigerant, which helps GM meet the overall requirements of the EPA's new motor vehicle greenhouse gas regulations. The new regulation requires an overall 40 percent improvement in overall U.S. fleet average vehicle fuel economy by 2016. The use of HFO-1234yf will help GM vehicles significantly exceed its targets under the new regulations.

"GM's decision to adopt this new refrigerant is additional proof of our commitment to be on the forefront of green technologies that will keep our planet healthy for our children and grand-children," said Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Environment, Energy and Safety Policy. "It's not just about meeting regulatory requirements; it's about environmental leadership and GM plans to lead in developing new technologies that will take the vehicle out of the environmental debate."

Said Terrence Hahn, vice president and general manager for Honeywell Fluorine Products: "We're pleased that GM is taking the lead in choosing HFO-1234yf, a refrigerant that has a lower impact on global warming. This is another example of how Honeywell is developing innovative new environmental and energy-efficient solutions to meet our customers' current and future needs."

About General Motors: General Motors, one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 205,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in some 157 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 31 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Daewoo, Holden, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM's largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Italy. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. General Motors acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation. More information on the new General Motors can be found at www.gm.com
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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 16 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      So, yeah troll haters making up most things and somehow purporting to know GM's "heart". So yeah, GM leads in combustion technology, and environmental AC. GM will soon lead in electrification when the Volt launches. This car is maximum amount of electrification without compromising the usefulness of the car. 70% + of its miles will come from the grid, and people will use it all of the time. Way more petroleum displacement than a Nissan Lead, which is 100% displacement for a fraction of the the trips people take.And Leaf drivers will be anxious all of the time worried about being stuck on the side of the road again. The Leaf will become a Jay Leno punchline.

      Most of GM product engineering is in the Detroit area, but right, GM is a global company. GM uses technology and engineering from around the world - Germany, Korea, and some in India and China. The best they can get for all of their customers. Something wrong with that?

      So Midway - you admit GM leads in 4s and 6s. Low tech and uncompetitive? bs - name one. The V8 - nope - highest V8 Fuel economy of them all right now. but soon, GMs will put DI across the board. Small block V8's get it in 2012 - http://www.autoblog.com/2010/04/27/gm-investing-890m-in-next-gen-small-block-v8s/ Hey - do the grownups a favor, and do a little fact check before you spout out.

      They reality doesn't fit you negative anti-American attitudes, but the truth shall set you free.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Frank-

        GM by no means leads in Direct Injection- not that it is the ultimate in energy efficiency anyway. Companies like Volkswagen and Renault already sell the majority of their cars with Direct Injection- the majority of cars they sell glabally are diesels. Also, of their gasoline-powered cars, far more are forced induction vehicles with direct injection. The only place where GM has more application of direct injection is in naturally aspirated gasoline engines- the one application where Direct Injection makes the least difference. GM still tends to trail in combined fuel economy ratings (which are more representative of typical driving behavior).

        " a Nissan Lead, which is 100% displacement"

        I think "Lead" is a Freudian slip. Despite GM's misleading and destructive FUD campaigns against true electric vehicles that you choose to believe, pure electric vehicles are poised to displace far more oil than plug-in hybrids according to DOE and IEA studies. 100 miles of range covers the vast majority of driving globally, not just a fraction, and charging infrastructure expands that even more. However, if you are in the segment of the population who needs to travel over 100 miles regularly in one day only owns one car in the household, doesn't have access to another car, isn't close to a rental location, doesn't like flying, doesn't have a quick charge location along the way, etc., then a plug-in may be a step forward in electrification. However, if you typically travel less than 20 miles per day, a cheaper Prius Plug-in would be a better option. For those trips beyond 100 miles, the Prius's ~60 mpg on gasoline engine overtakes the 33 mpg of the Volt quickly.

        GM's misleading propaganda is not the "truth" and all your name calling doesn't change that.
      • 5 Years Ago
      How does this have any significance? It's not like refrigerants are constantly being discharged into the atmosphere. Air conditioners are sealed, the refrigerants are never released into the atmosphere.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes they do, they leak quite often. Not to mention people being stupid and discharging them without a way to recover it. I personally know a scrap yard that just cuts the lines for everything, he doesn't care at all.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Moving off of r134a is definitely a good thing for the environment, whether through the Honeywell refrigerant or rival CO2-based systems. The EU already has a ban in place on r134a for all 2011 cars.

        The issue in the US is about letting automakers burn more gasoline (a larger environmental problem) if they use the new refrigerants.
      • 5 Years Ago
      In the 90's they told us the 'new' R134a would be just as cold as R12 too...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Troll haters middleway and lne can't accept GM leads in environmental issues. Grow up. Get over it and face the facts. So what there is a regulatory benefit for leading in greenhouse friendly AC production application. Of course there is - that's why they made the law.

      And engine R&D? GM leads the entire world in widespread production application of Direct injection gas engines. And Ford is right behind them. This didn't happen without large, relevant, productive and leading engine R&D effort. Watch Honda squirm and Toyota scramble for a change. Someone wake up the French / Japanese Nissan - DI enables the most advanced efficient combustion - quick figure out how to make it quiet, smooth, and cost effective. Need to get started to remain competitive.

      Get over the hate. You dislike GM and Ford because you cant stand to see America good at something? Root against you home team and fight with dad much? Grow up.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yep, GM was the first to deploy a DI v6 and i4... but the rest of their motors, particularly the v8's, are low tech and really uncompetitive, and it seems like they have no intention of changing that. Soon enough, they will scramble to clean up their act.. but not after taking advantage of as many loopholes as possible!

        Examples: e85 loophole, this refridgerant one, and in the past, intentionally making the hummer so heavy that it doesn't count towards their CAFE....

        They have also been known to publicly decry new emissions and fuel economy standards every time they are announced. Want some Bob Lutz quotes? he sounded like Jeremy Clarkson...

        Ford on the other hand, is honestly cleaning up their *entire* lineup of cars, without kicking and screaming. And it's paying off. GM seems to be dragging their heels. Their upcoming powertrains are half measures.

        Their heart is not in making efficient cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This kind of argument reminds me so much of what happened here in the UK a generation ago.
        This and that industry, particularly the car industry, was supposed to be 'the envy of the world', right up to the time it went bankrupt, got bailed by the Government, and floated for a while at huge expense to the public purse before resuming it's decline.
        At no stage did anyone have the guts to admit that they had totally screwed up, which would have given a proper basis for real and far reaching reform.
        I fear that, although there is a lot of competent engineering in the company, GM is in reality focused on making sure that it's top executives 'get paid the going rate' to 'ensure that they get the top talent'
        No other country grossly overpays it's incompetent leaders of industry in this way.
        Ford is in a far better condition, and in the very technologically advanced European market more than holds it's own, but compared to, say, Hyundai looks a lot less competitive.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Frank,

        If you were to go to my parent's house, you would see the Corvette posters I put up on the wall in my old room a quarter centrury ago that were never taken down. When I was a child, I used to wonder how Japanese cars ran by burning rice. My last car was a Mustang convertible. I used to be a Detroit true-believer, and wish I could believe again....

        But GM has let me down big time. They let foriegn automakers catch up and surpass them. They took the easy way out to challenges rather than adquately addressing them. They made overtures to electric cars while undermining them (and the regulations that support them). They have told me over and over again that this is the "new" Chevrolet, "not my father's" Oldsmobile, etc., but let me down more and more with each overture. They use misleading advertising that seeks to undermine their competitors more than promote what is good about their vehicles. They tell investors they are doing great when their net worth is close to Negative $100 Billion, then default on their obligations and rely on the taxpayers to bail them out. Their 2-faced lobbying efforts try to create the appearance of environmental responsiblility, yet seek to undermine any regulation or policy (especially through Auto Alliance, etc.) that supports it-- leading to America falling farther behind and becoming more and more dependant on foriegn oil. The closer you really look at what is behind what they are saying, the less reason there is to believe them at face value.

        They lost my trust through multiple betrayals, and have given no reason to win it back (it will take real action, rather than just more propaganda). In actuallity, I have been holding back, because I want the taxpayers to get as much of our bailout back as possible in the IPO.

        I want America to be good at a lot of things that we can't because we send so much money overseas for petroleum (the majority of our trade deficits- more than all other imports combined). I want us to stop spending money to send Americans overseas to get killed in order to protect oil supplies. I want America to be good at a lot of things, and I wish GM would step up and help us with that, rather than selfishly standing in the way. If I saw them actually doing something that was truly trying to help the situation in a significant way, rather than just creating the appearance of progress, I would support it. If they consistently supported policies that were to help us get off of oil, it would be great-- but they are pushing self-serving distortions instead. If GM would just come out and be honest about what they are trying to do now rather than trying to create misleading appearances, I would not agree with them, but I would at least respect them.

        GM has become a primarily Korean (engineering of mass-market car platforms) and Chinese (in terms of sales and production) now anyway.

        I'll stop ranting now, but I am no troll. I post a lot on real issues that help us get off of our oil addicition and help move America forward to be more globally competitive. I am just tired of the 2-faced distortions from GM standing in the way of progress and want people to see the full picture beyond the confines of GM propaganda.
        lasertekk
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wow. Thanks. You said it all.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Of course GM is going to use the new AC refrigerant. This isn't out of the goodness of their hearts- they get a CAFE credit for doing so. Using this refrigerant will let GM sell more gas guzzling, yet profitable full-sized SUV's and trucks... Same reason the sell E85 vehicles- it isn't to save the environment, it is to get around environmental regulations that would make selling gas guzzlers less profitable.

      http://jalopnik.com/5265996/ballyhoed-new-cafe-standards-riddled-with-hummer+sized-loopholes
        • 5 Years Ago
        So GM is trying to keep selling their most profitable vehicle? Gee, why would they want to do that?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Anything to avoid putting money into engine R&D. Don't wanna end up like Ford! ;)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, i had a feeling. They are not one to voluntarily innovate in green tech. The Volt itself seems sorta like a CAFE number maker itself. Their heart is not in it..
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