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Another German automaker has rejected the air conditioning refrigerant that's scheduled to be adopted by global automakers in 2017. Earlier this month, Volkswagen lined up with Daimler and BMW to support Daimler's findings from last year that the new refrigerant, called HFO-1234yf, can become flammable.

Volkswagen says it will be rolling out its own carbon-dioxide-based air conditioning systems. The European Union wants to have HFO-1234yf, which was designed by Honeywell and DuPont, replace the coolant currently in use, HFC-134a to significantly reduce CO2 emissions and its global warming potential. Daimler engineers discovered HFO-1234yf could spark a fire under the hood, with the potential to destroy the car and emit highly toxic gas while burning.

An automotive working group – the Cooperative Research Program – was formed last year to study the matter. Daimler conducted its own flammability tests and became concerned enough about vehicle safety to leave the working group, along with BMW. Volkswagen's Audi division also expressed concern and is now part of Volkswagen's decision to join ranks with its German allies and dismiss adoption of HFO-1234yf as the new refrigerant.

European Union Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani appears unwilling to accept the decision by Germany's "Big 3" automakers or a written request from German ministers asking for a temporary suspension of the new EU law. While Tajani said he would listen, he also said that he would begin infringement proceedings against any member state that did not comply with the new rules. "Since there was some information from Germany there was a problem, I am obliged to ask for information, but it's not giving them time. I am not weak," Tajani told Reuters.

There's no word yet what other agencies such as the US Environmental Protection Agency may do about it. Honeywell and Dupont would be holding a billion-dollar monopoly starting in 2017 if HFO-1234yf goes through. They're bound to support Industry Commissioner Tajani's decision.
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Volkswagen to use CO2 as future refrigerant for air conditioning systems
  • Consistent step towards protection of climate and environment
  • Group launches development of CO2 air conditioning systems
Wolfsburg, 08 March 2013 - Following up on the announcement of its ambitious environmental goals, the Volkswagen Group is taking another important step towards sustainability and environmental protection by choosing CO2 as the future refrigerant for its air conditioning systems.

Just a few days ago - at the Geneva International Motor Show - the Volkswagen Group affirmed its goal of becoming the world's most environmentally sustainable carmaker by 2018. To achieve this goal, the Group is investing over two-thirds of its total investment capital in the development of efficient technologies, drive systems and vehicles, as well as in environmentally sustainable production.

In another systematic step towards protecting the climate and the environment, the Volkswagen Group is now announcing its entry into CO2 technology, which will be rolled out progressively over its entire vehicle fleet.

Entry into CO2 technology will further contribute towards climate protection. CO2 (carbon dioxide) as a refrigerant – also known as R744 – is a naturally occurring gas with significantly lower greenhouse gas effects than conventional refrigerants, and it is ideal for use in specially designed automotive air conditioning systems. With a GWP (Global Warming Potential) value of 1, it is 99.3 per cent below the EU specified GWP limit of 150.