• Jul 23, 2010
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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