As the HVACR industry looks at possible refrigerants beyond HFCs, attention is being paid to HFOs. In recent years, DuPont and Honeywell have been jointly doing research on HFO-1234yf for use in automotive air conditioning in Europe where HFCs are being phased out in that application. HFOs are also being looked at in regard to stationary equipment.

The latest development regarding HFOs concerns the manufacturing of 1234yf for the automotive sector. In that regard, an announcement was made on May 19 that said, “Honeywell and DuPont announced a manufacturing joint venture to produce a new refrigerant (R-1234yf) for use in automotive air conditioning systems. The new refrigerant has 99.7 percent lower global warming potential (GWP) than the current refrigerant (used in automotive air conditioning, HFC-134a).

“Under the agreement, DuPont and Honeywell will share financial and technological resources with the intent to jointly design, construct, and operate a world-scale manufacturing facility for the new refrigerant. The product meets European Union regulatory requirements for lower GWP refrigerants for automobile air conditioning systems. DuPont and Honeywell developed the product jointly but will market and sell it separately.”

The release went on to quote representatives of both companies.

Terrence Hahn, vice president and general manager for Honeywell’s Fluorine Products business, said, “Through this manufacturing partnership, Honeywell and DuPont will deliver to the automobile industry this environmentally preferable solution that meets both operational and regulatory requirements. Globally, consumers will benefit from this new technology, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions. This complements Honeywell’s significant energy efficiency and environmental solutions portfolio, which is positioned to deliver efficiency advantages to a wide array of industries while benefiting the environment.”

Gary W. Spitzer, president, DuPont Chemicals & Fluoroproducts, said, “The new refrigerant enables the automotive industry to reduce the environmental footprint of vehicles at significantly lower cost than alternatives. By working together with Honeywell, DuPont is confident we’ll have the winning combination to enable the industry to realize environmental benefits sooner. DuPont’s role in the introduction of HFO-1234yf is another great example of the innovation DuPont has brought to the automotive industry for nearly a century.”

The press release went on to say, “The joint venture announced is designed to provide DuPont and Honeywell with a world-class source of supply to meet the growing demand faster than would be possible through either company’s individual efforts.”

The announcement noted that R-134a has a GWP of 1,430, while R-1234yf has a GWP of 4. “The European Union’s Mobile Air Conditioning Directive requires that, starting in 2011, all new vehicle models use a refrigerant with a GWP below 150, and by 2017, all new automobiles sold in Europe will be required to use a low-GWP refrigerant. The new refrigerant is 97 percent less GWP than the new regulation requires,” the announcement said.

It was also noted, “Prior to construction of a world-scale plant, the joint venture will begin supplying the refrigerant in the fourth quarter of 2011 in time to meet the European Union regulatory requirement.

“Honeywell and DuPont introduced R-1234yf to the automotive industry in 2007, and since then, it has undergone extensive testing for safety and efficacy by independent testing groups such as the SAE International Cooperative Research Program.”

Publication date: 07/05/2010