DuPont called on the European Union (EU) to aggressively curb noncompliance with the Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) Directive, pointing out the regulation's central role in the EU's sustainability program. The company also emphasized the need for the German Federal Motor Transport Authority to take a fully transparent, collaborative approach to testing cars that are designed to use HFO-1234yf for air conditioning to finally bring an end to many months of debate.
Europe's MAC Directive went into force Jan. 1, and requires new type-approved cars sold in EU Member States to use a refrigerant with a very low global warming potential of less than 150. A number of car models were expected to be subject to the new MAC Directive requirement, but many of them continue to use R-134a refrigerant, which has a global warming potential of 1430.
"Allowing implicit noncompliance with the law would cripple the EU's future ability to enforce environmental requirements and also take away any sound basis to invest in future innovation," said Thierry F. J. Vanlancker, president, DuPont Chemicals & Fluoroproducts. "The European Union clearly recognizes this and has stated that efforts to circumvent the MAC Directive are unacceptable. The action by French authorities to block registration of certain vehicles underscores how seriously this is taken by Member States."
"The EU has promised to take action if type approvals are being misused," Vanlancker added. "This could include setting an earlier date by which all cars sold in the EU must comply with the MAC Directive, since it appears that automakers don't need as long of a phase-in period as they had originally asked for."
DuPont also requests that testing currently underway by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt or KBA) would be conducted openly, as there has been no publication or broad industry review of the testing protocols. DuPont believes that if the KBA tests are to have meaning for industry and government stakeholders, they must be conducted in a collaborative and transparent manner, similar to the approach used by SAE International.
After years of cooperative testing by automakers from around the world, including Daimler, HFO-1234yf was proven to be a suitable and highly competitive alternative when considering performance, life-cycle climate performance, safety, implementation costs and industry readiness. A consortium of 11 automakers recently reaffirmed their view that HFO-1234yf can be used safely in cars, estimating that the risk related to car fires from using HFO-1234yf is nearly a million times lower than the risk related to car fires from all potential causes, and the risk is well below those commonly considered acceptable by the general public and regulatory agencies. For more details, visit http://www.sae.org/standardsdev/tsb/cooperative/executivesummary.pdf.
"After we have seen such strong examples of open and cooperative evaluations of this product on a global basis, it is unusual to see one agency conducting additional testing without industry input," said Vanlancker.
Only one automaker has reported that its cars have any difficulties with HFO-1234yf. Other car-makers have conducted testing confirming that they can safely use the refrigerant. Most recently, Opel worked with the highly respected German technical organization TÜV Rheinland to conduct actual crash testing in a car that uses HFO-1234yf and found no evidence that the refrigerant could catch fire in a collision and release toxic fumes.