BMW has joined Daimler and, potentially, Audi in quitting an automotive industry research program studying a proposed new air conditioning refrigerant, the simply named HFO-1234yf. BMW disagrees with the test methods being used. "We do not want to say the test results are wrong, but we are not convinced the methods applied are sufficient to achieve a definitive conclusion that guarantees our high safety standards," a spokesman for BMW told Reuters.

European regulators want to see the new refrigerant adopted to cut atmospheric emissions which could cause global warming, and it's been researched for years. Daimler expressed safety concerns last year after conducting its own flammability tests, which caused the formation of a working group, the Cooperative Research Program, under the guidance of the International Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Daimler confirmed it has left the working group, while Audi could not be reached for comment.

HFO-1234yf may lead to a billion-dollar monopoly beginning in 2017.

The HFO-1234yf refrigerant is being developed by Honeywell and Dupont. It may lead to a billion-dollar monopoly beginning in 2017 when a previously scheduled phase-out of current refrigerants is completed.

In September, Daimler made its decision to recall all 1,300 of its Mercedes cars that were using HFO-1234yf. The German carmaker had been testing simulated frontal crashes causing leakage of the refrigerant from its air conditioning system. Researchers were finding that when the surface of the turbocharged gasoline engine reached higher operating temperatures, it could spontaneously ignite.

The latest working group was formed in November with Daimler and 12 other major global automakers. In December, the group released a statement that none of these 12 automakers had expressed concern over the safety of HFO-1234yf. Since then, BMW and possibly Audi have joined up with Daimler.

The European Commission had no comment, and has been lobbying for adoption of the new refrigerant to scale back on carbon emissions. The US Environmental Protection Agency also supports the reduction of global warming over the HFC-134a currently in use. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may play a role in safety concerns outweighing the environmental benefits.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 4 Comments
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Year Ago
      @ Rotation Ah, care to repeat your comment on how refrigerant is environmentally superior to to water vapour ?
      paulwesterberg
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sounds like a problem for ICE vehicles but not for EVs. *Hysterical Voice*:Those gas/diesel vehicles are moving deathtraps!
      Doug Danzeisen Sr
      • 1 Year Ago
      Mercedes initially adopted the refrigerant before they had conducted the tests which prove that it can ignite and cause poisonous gas to be released. The test simulated release of the refrigerant on the manifold of one of their vehicles and it caught fire, releasing, hydrogen fluoride gas. Not only is it poisonous but it turned the windshield an opaque milky white. With all the emphasis on downsized turbo engines running hot under the hood this is not a trivial issue. They also run the same test with R134A and there was no fire. Google to see the video. Its a real problem.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Doug Danzeisen Sr
        Aw cmon, you wouldn't drive around in something that could melt your face off in an impact? you must hate polar bears.