SAE reconfirms that R-1234yf refrigerant is 'safe and effective'

  • 23-Apr-2013 03:38 EDT

An SAE International study group comprising 10 global automakers has completed an updated fault-tree analysis of R-1234yf that indicates "the risk of passenger exposure to a vehicle fire associated with this refrigerant is exceptionally remote." The Cooperative Research Project (CRP1234-4) team met at the recent SAE 2013 World Congress in Detroit. In September 2012, Daimler announced that it had developed a new test method that demonstrated an additional risk of post-collision fires in vehicles using R-1234yf. In response, SAE CRP1234-4 was formed to further evaluate the refrigerant's safety. All OEMs, including Daimler, were invited to participate. The SAE CRP team members have conducted numerous additional tests of various types to study ignition of an R-1234yf leak in a crash-damaged vehicle. The SAE CRP team of OEMs has concluded that the refrigerant release testing conducted by Daimler is unrealistic and that it is not an appropriate test to verify the safety of refrigerant applications in vehicles. The Daimler testing did not include any actual vehicle collisions or the mitigating factors that occur in an actual collision. These factors include the quenching effect of front-end-compartment deformation, the extinguishing effect of steam released due to radiator breakage, and dispersion of the refrigerant from the condenser outside the engine compartment. Daimler’s refrigerant release apparatus and nozzle does not represent actual crash-damaged refrigerant lines, and was found to be artificial. The SAE CRP is currently finalizing its report and is targeting June 2013 for publication.

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