EPA approves new ozone-friendly automotive refrigerant

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chlorofluorocarbons in automotive refrigerants

The EPA approved a new automotive coolant that doesn't rely on CFCs, which have punched a hole in Earth's ozone layer. Image: CC Srbauer/Wikemedia Commons

A cleaner, greener automotive coolant has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA issued approval Tuesday for a new compound that carries far less “global warming potential” than the one currently in use. The new automotive refrigerant was originally developed to comply with European Union regulations.

Eco-friendly, energy efficient coolant

In a few years car air conditioners will be more environmentally friendly, as well as more efficient. The EPA said the new automotive refrigerant, HFO-1234yf, doesn’t affect Earth’s ozone layer and has a global-warming potential 99.7 percent less than coolants currently in use. HFO-1234yf gives automakers the option to adopt a greener, more energy efficient refrigerant that will lower the carbon footprint of their new cars, according to Honeywell, which manufactures HFO-1234yf in a joint venture with DuPont.

Say goodbye to CFCs

Chlorofluorocarbons, also known as CFCs, were discovered to be destroying the Earth’s ozone layer back in the mid 1980s. At the time CFCs were used for thousands of products ranging from air conditioners to Styrofoam cups. In an effort of international cooperation, world governments signed the Montreal Protocol, which set the goal to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals by 2030. Since then, the ozone hole that has been forming annually over Antarctica has been gradually shrinking. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association scientists estimate the ozone hole will mostly disappear about 2050.

Protecting the ozone layer

Car air conditioners have long used chlorofluorocarbons, a compound proven to deplete the ozone layer. While chlorofluorocarbons linger in the atmosphere for 500 years, HFO-1234yf breaks down after just 11 days. Honeywell and DuPont developed HFO-1234yf to comply with European Union regulations. The companies plan to commercialize the compound for European automakers later in 2011.


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