GERMANY: Following a meeting with Mercedes-Benz earlier today, refrigerant manufacturer Honeywell says it did not see any evidence that the car manufacturer's findings into the safety of the refrigerant HFO1234yf had added any substantial new information to previous comprehensive risk assessments.
The meeting was hurriedly convened after Mercedes-Benz announced that following its own tests it would not be using the new low GWP replacement for R134a because of flamability fears. Furthermore, the German car manufacturer said it wanted to continue using R134a depite that refrigerant's imminent European ban for use in car air conditioning systems.
'The Mercedes-Benz testing was conducted without the participation of any reputable third party and without consultation with others in the industry,' said Honeywell, today.
It points out that HFO-1234yf was the subject of comprehensive testing conducted over a three-year period under the Cooperative Research Programme (CRP) of SAE International using proven, standard methods for evaluating new products and materials in automobiles.
'That testing, which was sponsored by 15 global automakers including all leading German automakers, concluded that HFO-1234yf is safe for use in automobile applications,' said a Honeywell spokesman.
'While Honeywell appreciates Daimler's willingness to discuss the results of its in-house tests, we do not see any evidence that the findings have added any substantial new information to the comprehensive risk assessments conducted under the CRP.'
The refrigerant manufacturer maintains that in today's automobiles, there are several useful materials under the hood that are more flammable, including brake and transmission fluids, coolant, lubricants, and gasoline.
'Automakers can safely use these flammable materials through design that minimises the risks, says Honeywell. 'In fact, OEMs have already taken appropriate vehicle design steps to ensure the safe use of HFO-1234yf even under extreme conditions, as they do for other flammable materials.
'We had a constructive dialogue with Daimler and asked them to review their designs to determine the necessary modifications required to further minimize any flammability risks. We have offered Honeywell's engineering expertise to work alongside Daimler's engineers to develop a solution for their vehicles and meet the 1 January 2013 deadline for the EU MAC Directive.
'We regret the position that Daimler has taken in isolation and believe that it does not reflect the industry's collaborative and transparent testing processes, which have ensured the safe implementation of many innovative materials within automobiles.'