What is this new refrigerant R1234yf and when will it impact our company?
By Gavin Lyons Posted on 17-08-2017
This is a question here at Lyons that we are beginning to get asked constantly, ‘What is this new refrigerant R1234yf and when will it affect my business? ” Now of course, this question does vary over the differing industries that a company such as Lyons deals with however we will do our best in this blog to answer some of the common questions to assist our customers with a better understanding.
“Why are we changing to R1234yf and not just staying with the refrigerant we have?”
The climate is the reason countries such as Australia are making laws to change the use of refrigerants. Australia has signed on to an International Greenhouse Gas Emissions plan to reach net zero emissions from as early as 2050, which is only 33 years away. The current regulated refrigerant which is mainly used in automotive applications is R134a which has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 1300 compared to the GWP of R1234yf which is less than 4. In simple terms, this means that for each kilogram of R134a which escapes to the atmosphere it is comparable with 1400 kgs of Carbon Dioxide being released to the atmosphere. This is compared to the new R1234yf which is less than 4kgs of Carbon Dioxide for every 1kg of R1234yf which is released.
“When will this change affect my industry?”
This question is slightly more difficult to answer, depending on which industry you are asking about. The government has two major industries that they are focusing on for this change in the near future, automotive and domestic air conditioning. For companies that deal with automotive clients like Lyons, we will see from the start of 2018 an acceleration in the phase down of R134a and an increase in the amount of vehicles being imported with R1234yf. There have actually been vehicles arriving in Australia as early as 2014 with R1234yf however these numbers are going to exponentially grow over the coming years. There are already a number of large European truck manufacturers that have already made the change, and the automotive industry will see this increase dramatically in the upcoming years.
“What are the physical changes that we will see in cars / light vehicles?”
Whilst R1234yf is extremely more environmentally friendly than the current R134a, this new refrigerant is mildly flammable. Therefore, for this gas to be utilised in vehicles there needs to be safeguards put into place. The biggest change that companies such as Lyons will see is the fact that there will be no TX valves or joins inside the cabin of vehicles. All pipes will need to extrude out through the flywall into the engine bay just incase there is a leak. Therefore, there will be no more repairing damaged evaporator coils or installing units that utilise TX valves inside the cabin.
“Will we need to change our air conditioning service equipment?”
Yes. Due to R1234yf being mildly flammable, conventional R134a air conditioning service equipment cannot be utilised. Instead, spark free equipment such as vacuum pumps and reclaimers are required. Lyons and similar companies have already begun to stock this equipment and can assist you with any enquiries you may have.
“Will all hoses and fittings need to be changed as what happened when R-12 became obsolete?”
No, the same hoses and fittings can be utilised as long as there is no joins inside the vehicle cabin as discussed earlier.
“When will mining machines need to be changed to R1234yf?”
This is the one question that Lyons cannot answer yet. Whilst the change will happen rapidly in the automotive industry, there has been no exact date given to the mining industry. A major issue is the diversity of cabins , vehicle applications and the higher gas charges required for these larger systems. Mining companies are looking at decreasing their global footprint with products such as the Sigma Idle Reduction System to remove unnecessary engine idling on large machines however there will come a time when the refrigerant being utilised on these machines needs to be replaced.
“Will this new refrigerant be more expensive then R134a?”
Simply put, yes for the foreseeable future. Currently due to the supply and demand economics there is a high price per kg on the new R1234yf (up to $500 per kg) however as the demand increases and the supply ramps up the price should begin to drop. In our communications however it has been said that it will not get down to the pricing that R134a currently is at so reclaiming gas will continue to be a focus for companies such as Lyons.
Hopefully this blog has answered some of the questions surrounding R1234yf, if you would like further information please do not hesitate to contact us. Lyons will continue to research and provide information regarding the refrigerant change.