HVAC Breaking News / Refrigerants & Reclaim

June 24, 2013: SAE’s Final R-1234yf Safety Research Says Risk Is Minimal

R-1234yf Refrigerant Is Determined to be Safe to Use

WARRENDALE, Pa. — Utilizing input from Daimler, SAE International initiated additional safety research looking at R-1234yf, a new low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant that can be used in automotive applications. SAE said its original risk assessment is still valid: risks are well below the risks commonly viewed as acceptable.

From 2006 to 2009 SAE International administered a cooperative research project (CRP1234) which evaluated R-1234yf. Using fault tree analysis (FTA) the results of the CRP1234 assessment showed that the risk associated with the use of R-1234yf in automotive vehicles is well below those commonly considered acceptable by the general public and regulatory agencies. The risk assessment was submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) approval process, and the EPA subsequently approved R-1234yf for use in U.S. vehicles.

On Sept. 25, 2012, the German automotive manufacturer Daimler issued a press release suggesting that new testing conducted by the company had shown R-1234yf to pose a greater risk of vehicle fire than was estimated by the CRP1234 analysis. To address the Daimler claims, a new CRP (CRP1234-4) was organized in October 2012. All OEMs were invited to attend.

After extensive testing and analysis, the new CRP concluded that the refrigerant release testing completed by Daimler was unrealistic. According to SAE International, the Daimler testing created extreme conditions that favored ignition while ignoring many mitigating factors that would be present in an actual real-world collision.

With this in mind, the new CRP, with input from Daimler, initiated two new fault tree scenarios to realistically address these claims. The new CRP also reviewed and analyzed extensive new OEM test data which was used to complete the new FTA. The two new fault tree scenarios consider the possibility of an individual being unable to exit the vehicle due to a collision or a non-collision event that involves a refrigerant/oil release, the refrigerant/oil being ignited and the fire propagating. The FTA examined average risks across the entire global fleet and used a number of conservative assumptions to ensure that the final risk estimate would be more likely to overestimate rather than underestimate actual risks.

Based on the updated analysis, the estimated overall risk of vehicle fire exposure attributed to use of R-1234yf is conservatively estimated at 3 x 10-12 events per vehicle operating hour. This is nearly six orders of magnitude less than the current risk of vehicle fires due to all causes (approximately 1 x 10-6 per vehicle operating hour) and also well below other risks accepted by the general public. The current overall risk of occupant exposure to adverse events based on R-1234yf usage is on the same order of magnitude as that estimated in the prior work of CRP1234. Therefore, SAE International said the conclusions of the former CRP risk assessment are still valid: risks are still very small compared to the risks of a vehicle fire from all causes and well below risks that are commonly viewed as acceptable by the general public.

For more information, visit www.sae.org/standardsdev/tsb/cooperative/executivesummary.pdf.

Publication date: 6/24/2013

Want more HVAC industry news and information? Join The NEWS on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn today!

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to The NEWS Magazine

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

2014 World Energy Engineering Congress

Scenes from the 2014 World Energy Engineering Congress in Washington, D.C.


NEWSMakers: Howard Weiss
Howard Weiss, executive vice president, HVAC Excellence stopped by The NEWS’ booth at the AHR Expo to discuss HVAC Excellence’s upcoming conference, networking opportunities at large expo’s, and much more. Posted on Feb. 27.
More Podcasts


NEWS 03-02-15 cover

2015 March 2

Check out the weekly edition of The NEWS today!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

HVAC Trends

The NEWS regularly reports on HVAC industry trends in our weekly issues. What trends do you see?
View Results Poll Archive


2015 National Plumbing & HVAC Estimator

Every plumbing and HVAC estimator can use the cost estimates in this practical manual!

More Products

Clear Seas Research


Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


Magazine image
Register today for complete access to ACHRNews.com. Get full access to the latest features, Extra Edition, and more.


facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconLinkedIn i con