Talk­ing gas

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Air-Conditioning Repairs -

Sev­eral dif­fer­ent re­frig­er­ants are used in au­to­mo­tive air-con­di­tion­ing and it is crit­i­cal that the cor­rect one is used in your car by your spe­cial­ist. Newer types are less en­vi­ron­men­tally dam­ag­ing. The first gas, R12, which was used on cars up to 1993, had a global warm­ing po­ten­tial that was 8000 times higher than car­bon diox­ide and took around 100 years to de­grade. R12 was banned for air-con­di­tion­ing ser­vic­ing in the UK from 2001. Its re­place­ment, R134a, was far su­pe­rior from an en­vi­ron­men­tal stand­point, be­ing only 1300 times more dam­ag­ing than CO2 from a global warm­ing per­spec­tive and could de­grade in 13 years. Nonethe­less, car man­u­fac­tur­ers are no longer per­mit­ted to use R134a and its re­place­ment, R1234yf, re­quires only 13 days to dis­si­pate and is only four times as harm­ful as CO2.

The in­tro­duc­tion of R1234yf in 2013 was con­tro­ver­sial, es­pe­cially when Mercedes-benz re­fused to use it in cer­tain mod­els on safety grounds, which saw the French gov­ern­ment ban­ning cer­tain new Mercedes cars from be­ing sold, prior to the de­ci­sion be­ing over­turned in court. Be­ing so new, its sole man­u­fac­tur­ers, Honey­well/dupont, have been ac­cused of hold­ing a mo­nop­oly. Even so, R1234yf re­mains sig­nif­i­cantly more ex­pen­sive than the older R134a gas, which is still avail­able to the re­pair in­dus­try. How­ever, the EU has re­stricted pro­duc­tion of R134a on en­vi­ron­men­tal grounds, with some pun­dits ar­gu­ing that the cal­cu­lated de­mand was un­der­es­ti­mated. Due to this re­stricted pro­duc­tion, the cost of R134a has risen sig­nif­i­cantly in the last year, so don’t be sur­prised if you find that pro­fes­sional re­gassing charges have in­creased ac­cord­ingly.

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