"Nature does not care about definitions": Munich University Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, Andreas Kornath.

"Nature does not care about definitions": Munich University Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, Andreas Kornath.

Munich University's Professor of Inorganic Chemistry has hit back strongly at Honeywell claims his report into the r1234yf refrigerant is "clearly biased" and that there is an "ulterior motive."

Professor Andreas Kornath and his colleagues at Munich University outlined the results of their studies in April, following a long-running and increasingly vociferous battle between Mercedes-Benz and the European Commission, concerning the German automaker's wish to use its own, alternative, r134a coolant.

The academics maintain carbonyl fluoride, or COF2, is formed when r1234yf combusts and that risk analyses carried out by manufacturers of the refrigerant, have not taken this into account, advising an urgent reassessment of the situation.

Honeywell Fluorine Products Europe managing director, Paul Sanders, however, told just-auto today (13 May): "It is a clearly biased report - COF2 has been studied for 20 years.

"The report was done [on] a laboratory scale without any assessment of [a] real life situation."

Mercedes maintains the r1234yf coolant could present a fire hazard in certain conditions and was last week formally authorised to use its r134a variant in its A, B, CLA and SL models, by France's highest Court, the Conseil d'Etat.

Sanders noted in the event of a vehicle fire there was a "minute likelyhood" of COF2, but this would be for a fraction of a second. 

"It shows there is an ulterior motive," he said. "You are adding two and two and tying to make it into 15."

The issue has also dragged in national governments, with the European Commission (EC) launching the first steps of an infringement procedure against Germany for its supposed non-compliance with the Mobile Air Conditioning Directive.

"I don't have a motive," Professor Kornath told just-auto from Munich University. "I am Professor of Chemistry since 2005 [and] I am in this business [for] 25 years.

"I do not have a patent in CO2 [alternative coolant] technology - I wanted to have a study which is not paid by anybody - it is only financial support from our University and I have no intention for commercial stuff.

"It is a fundamental rule in the German Constitution [of] freedom of speech, press and of research. Nobody has to say to me how I have to do research."

The Professor also addressed Honeywell's concerns surrounding the efficiency of the University's testing methods in relation to real-life situations.

"What are real life and what are laboratories?," said Professor Kornath. "It does not matter if I burn something in a laboratory or garage or outside.

"My research has to be state-of-the-art - I am not a fool. These results were made by several colleagues also - I want to make sure.

"I always say nature does not care about definitions. Real life to Honeywell seems to me like I create a situation and say this is real life."

The EC tasked the Joint Research Centre in Italy to examine the findings of the German road safety authority, the KBA and noted there was "no evidence of a serious risk in the use of this refrigerant in MAC [Mobile Air Conditioning] systems under normal and foreseeable conditions of use."