GERMANY: Daimler, the manufacturer of Mercedes-Benz cars, has said it will not be using the new HFO refrigerant R1234yf in its vehicle air conditioning systems. Instead, it says it wishes to continue using R134a.
Following its own independent safety tests, the German car and truck manufacturer has raised safety concerns with usage of the new internationally recognised refrigerant replacement for R134a.
While concerns had been raised previously - particularly in Germany - as to its 'mild' flammability, the climate-friendly R1234yf was set to be used worldwide in the automotive industry and was previously perceived to be safe. This was determined by numerous laboratory and crash tests carried out by international vehicle manufacturers and independent institutions.
Daimler says it has carried out a series of additional tests on the new refrigerant as part of a new real-life test scenario developed in-house which goes above and beyond the legally prescribed requirements.
'In the new real-life test scenario, the refrigerant is dynamically dispersed at high pressure near to hot components of the test vehicle's exhaust system,' says the report. 'This corresponds to a serious head-on collision in which the refrigerant line is severed and the reproducible results demonstrate that refrigerant which is otherwise difficult to ignite under laboratory conditions can indeed prove to be flammable in a hot engine compartment.'
Daimler says that similar tests carried out with the current R134a refrigerant did not result in ignition.
'Due to the new findings of this study and the high safety demands at Mercedes-Benz, this chemical will not be used in its products,' says a company statement. 'The company therefore wishes to continue to use the proven and safe R134a refrigerant in its vehicles. Daimler has already informed the relevant authorities of these facts and will also make the results of this investigation available to all relevant associations as well as to other vehicle manufacturers,' it says.