Honeywell stresses the environmentally-friendly nature of r1234yf refrigerant

Honeywell stresses the environmentally-friendly nature of r1234yf refrigerant

Honeywell has reacted strongly to studies by the University of Munich noting carbonyl fluoride - which the academics claim is structurally related to phosgene - is released when a vehicle using its r1234yf refrigerant is on fire.

The highly contentious issue has been batted back and forth between Mercedes and Honeywell for a considerable time with both protagonists sticking to their respective positions as the scientific debate rages.

Munich University says carbonyl fluoride is structurally related to phosgene, the chemical gas used as a weapon in the First World War and is urging r1234yf be reassessed.

But Honeywell has fought back against the stance describing it as "outrageous" in its bid to ensure what it sees as the vastly lower-polluting elements of r1234yf are highlighted, rather than Mercedes' own preference for the r134a refrigerant.

"Comparing HFO-1234yf - a product proven to be safe time and again by the industry and leading institutions such as the EU Joint Research Centre, SAE International and the German Motor Transport Authority (KBA) - to World War I nerve gas is outrageous and an insult to the victims of that war," said Honeywell Flourine Products Europe managing director, Paul Sanders, in a statement to just-auto.

"Mercedes disingenuously asserts a "structural relationship" - a meaningless term - between the by-product in question, carbonyl fluoride (COF2), and nerve gas, but we know full well COF2 is not nerve gas.

"Furthermore, all automakers know that COF2 is also a combustion by-product of HFC-134a, the refrigerant in used for decades in hundreds of millions of cars worldwide.

"COF2 has been proven repeatedly to be a very short-lived by-product in the event of a fire and in decades of experience with HFC-134a, not one issue has ever been reported with it."

The arguments have also dragged in the European Commission, the authorities in Berlin and Paris, Mercedes' dealer association in France and France's highest Court, the Conseil d'Etat, which this week formally overturned a sales ban last year concerning the automaker's A, B, CLA and SL models, 

"Well into the second year of the EU Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) Directive, Daimler remains the only automaker to raise concerns about HFO-1234yf," added Sanders.

"It is sad to see this type of fear-mongering that is harmful to the industry and bad for the environment. Widespread adoption of HFO-1234yf would lead to the greenhouse gas equivalent of removing more than 30m cars from the roads worldwide.

"Already, more than a dozen automakers and 1 million vehicles use HFO-1234yf safely, and the number grows daily."