‘Why another change of refrigerant when R134a was the environmental solution?’ This is a valid question; we need to be well informed of the background of where the whole refrigerant research journey has come from and where it’s going.
R12 was used as an air-conditioning refrigerant from the 1930’s to the mid 1990’s. R12 is an ozone depleting gas, which means that it was contributing to burning a hole in the ozone layer. R12 has an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of 1.0 and was replaced by R134a which is non-ozone depleting (ODP of 0.0). Although R134a is not ozone depleting, when allowed to escape it creates a layer in the atmosphere causing a greenhouse effect, which traps in heat and contributes to global warming. This effect is measured as the Global Warming Potential (GWP). GWP is a relative measure of how much heat a greenhouse gas traps in the atmosphere. It compares the amount of heat trapped by a certain mass of the gas in question to the amount of heat trapped by a similar mass of carbon dioxide. Although the GWP of R134a (1410) is half of that of R12 (2400), R134a is still considered a significant threat to our aging environment.
As a result, R-1234yf has been developed as a more environmentally safe refrigerant with an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of 0.0 and a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of only 4. That is 335 times less than that of R134a! From this perspective, it is a great development but now the trade needs to understand what they need to do to prepare for R-1234yf.
How to prepare for R-1234yf
R-1234yf refrigerant has moved faster than we anticipated at first and it is already in cars on the showroom floors right now! It won’t be long, and we will start seeing R-1234yf equipped vehicles in our workshops. Although there are a lot of similarities between R134a and R-1234yf refrigerant, there is one fundamental difference: R-1234yf is classed as mildly flammable which immediately prompts requirements for separate, specialized equipment. Note, however, that the flammability of R-1234yf is still much lower than that of Hydrocarbon refrigerant.
Access fittings are different to avoid confusion in the work shop and different service labels will be required for R-1234yf vehicles. There will be some pieces of equipment that can be crossed over between refrigerants. However, the basic main pieces of equipment such as Fully Automatic Stations, Vacuum Pumps, Recovery Units and Manifold Sets will need to be R- 1234yf specific. Some refrigerant analysers, leak detectors and digital manifolds have the ability to be used with both R-1234yf and other gasses. System Oil and UV dye will be new for R-1234yf.
Cylinders must be stored in a cool, well ventilated area with low risk of fire and out of direct sunlight. Ensure that cylinders are properly strapped into place and avoid dropping, denting or mechanically abusing containers.
Do not store HFO-1234yf cylinders near sources of naked flames, ignition sources. or at temperatures exceeding 51°C.
Reclaim cylinders for HFO-1234yf are to be clearly marked so as not to contaminate between refrigerants.
Where to buy R-1234yf
Highgate Car Air has stock of R-1234yf Tools and Equipment ready to go. Highgate Car Air also has its own in-house filling line which is quality assured and calibrated to Australian standards. Currently, R-1234yf is available in 4.5kg cylinders.