HFO-1234yf Will be Used in GM's 2013 Models
We talk a lot about CO2 because it is the greenhouse gas that humanity produces in the biggest quantity, but there are many others that contribute to warming our planet. The refrigerant in automobile air conditioner units is one of those. It stays in the atmosphere for a long time if it leaks, and it is pretty effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere. That's why it's good news that GM, probably followed by other automakers, will start using a new refrigerant (HFO-1234yf, made by Honeywell Fluorine Products) that will be substantially more benign for the environment. Read on for more details.
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). (source)
I hope that all other automakers will also switch to this refrigerant (or another equally good or better). Same for stationary A/C units used in houses and buildings.
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