A newly developed A/C refrigerant developed by Honeywell for the European market to have 99.7% lower global warming potential (GWP) will be used by GM to cool its entire fleet of 2013 models.
The new low emission coolant was developed by Honeywell initially to meet EU standards which have long been much more strict than US NHTSA standards governing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.
Now that the US is beginning to develop EU level clean vehicle standards, Honeywell’s HFO1234yf will have a new market in the US as well, and GM is the first on board to announce incorporating the environmentally friendlier refrigerant in its line-up here.
Names like Buick, GMC and Cadillac may seem hardly synonymous with green driving. But the new GM, (which, like Honeywell is a member of the breakaway Chamber of Commerce for clean energy) has a more fuel-efficient 2013 Chevy line-up ( including the Volt) which will also use HFO1234yf.
In 2007, as part of Kyoto rules, new low emissions standards for mobile air conditioning (MAC standards) were mandated in Europe. With a requirement that all new vehicles must use refrigerants with a global warming potential below 150 by 2011 – Honeywell and Dupont developed products to meet the standard.
The very first standards for carbon emissions ever in the US were just proposed by the Obama administration EPA last year. These clean fuel standards require that by model year 2016 the fleet-wide average must have emissions of no more than 250 grams per mile. Because of the high GWP of current refrigerants, the EPA will allow auto manufacturers to earn credits toward that fleet-wide average by improvements to air conditioning systems that reduce greenhouse gases.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) were substituted for Ozone-depleting CFCs after the 1987 Montreal Protocol. At that time, following the warning of scientists who noticed that CFCs were creating a hole in the Ozone layer, the entire world quickly agreed to phase out atmosphere-endangering chlorofluorocarbons. However in 2009 the replacement HFCs were found to be a potent greenhouse gas and the search was on for a substitute.
GM has jumped ahead of the other automakers who serve the US market by implementing this A/C refrigerant which solves both problems. It neither slices open our atmosphere, leaving humans exposed to space, nor turns it into a gradually warming blanket that will suffocate our civilization.
Image: GM Volt
Source: Green Car Congress
Susan Kraemer writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate and GreenProphet and has been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design she brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention: solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times. Follow Susan @dotcommodity on twitter.