HFO

R-1234yf

I read an article earlier this week on counterfeit 1234yf refrigerant being caught at a port in Poland. This refrigerant was no doubt bound for the Western European market. Polish authorities, in co-ordination with Honeywell, seized the counterfeit shipment and had it destroyed at the purchaser’s expense. As most of you know R-134a was phased out entirely in new vehicles within the European Union. While there was not a specific refrigerant chosen as a replacement most of the market moved towards this new HFO known as R-1234yf. It had a low Global Warming Potential, it had no Ozone Depletion Potential, and it was only slightly flammable. It seemed like the perfect solution.

This was great news to the big refrigerant manufacturers Honeywell and Chemours (DuPont). These two companies hold patents on 1234yf. This patent is not expiring anytime soon. In essence, these two companies have a monopoly on the automotive market within the European Union. There is an alternative refrigerant, CO2/R-744, that was developed by the German company Daimler… but it is still in it’s infancy stages and is not widely used in new models yet.


After writing this article I was informed that I was mistaken when it comes to the patents on 1234yf. There are various patents that are held on 1234yf and they fall into two categories. The first is known as the process patent and the other is known as the application patent.

The process patent is a patent on the recipe that is used to create HFO 1234yf. Honeywell holds a patent here, but there are other ways to create 1234yf. So, outside companies can produce 1234yf legally and hopefully come in at a competitive price point.

The application patents are just that. They are patents on the certain applications that 1234yf can be used in. Honeywell for example holds patents using 1234yf in automotive applications. So, while other companies can produce 1234yf we are still at a bottleneck with the application patents. The good news is that these may expire earlier then the 2030 date that I had mentioned earlier.


The price on R-1234yf is a whole other story. Typically, you could get a pound of R-134a for around three-dollars. This is what folks were used to and what they expected to pay if they needed an air conditioning repair. R-1234yf however is in a whole other ballpark. Your typical price per pound on this product could range from fifty to seventy dollars a pound.  That is nearly a two-thousand percent increase in price to businesses and customers.

So, now let’s look at this critically. We have a very high priced product, a product that is produced by a select few companies, and it is a product that EVERY vehicle within the European Union needs. I’m sorry folks, but these three points means that this is a prime candidate for counterfeit or fraudulent product to hit the market. This is just human nature. Yeah, there is a risk if these folks get caught but there is also a huge reward: profit. Think if this counterfeit product hits the market at twenty percent less then the genuine Honeywell/Chemours product. Customer gets a significant savings and the business behind it makes a killing.

In order to stop this fraudulent product Honeywell has been working with various governments within the European Union and even with China. There was a publicized incident last year in the Czech Republic where fraudulent 1234yf was found at a port. The year before Honeywell and the Chinese government prosecuted a person involved in the production and sale of counterfeit 1234yf. This individual received nine months in jail. There was another incident reported by the CoolingPost last month. This time a shipment was seized at a Polish port.

Most of this product either comes in to a Eastern European country’s port or it travels by road from China, into Turkey, into Bulgaria, and then to whatever western country they wish. Just like with previous counterfeit refrigerant, the product is coming from China. These are most likely the same guys who were producing counterfeit R-22 a few years back when R-22’s price had hit record highs. It was also the Chinese that was found to be violating the Montreal Protocol by still widely producing and using R-11. It is not a surprise that they are diving into the fraudulent HFO market.

Honeywell states that they are going after these fraudulent 1234yf products to protect consumers and to protect their equipment.  They may very well have the interests of protecting consumers but, in my opinion, all this is is Honeywell protecting their monopoly and aggressively going after anyone tries to infringe on their market. Whatever their motivations are they are going to have one hell of a game of whack-a-mole on their hands. The Chinese have been very lackadaisical when it comes to enforcing regulations and preventing illegal products from being manufactured and sold. For every company that Honeywell goes after another one will pop right back up.

Who knows folks, maybe this product is one-hundred percent clean and is made to the same specifications that Honeywell/Chemours have set forward. Even if it was though it would still be targeted and destroyed for patent infringement.  I won’t make a lot of friends by saying this, but I am not a fan of this monopoly. No two companies should control the entire automotive refrigerant market.

Conclusion

While we haven’t felt the pressure of this high priced HFO product here in the United States I can assure you folks that it is coming and it is coming sooner then you think. Earlier this year I did an article on the number of cars using 1234yf. The numbers were staggering. In 2019 nearly sixty percent of new vehicles use R-1234yf. In just a few years that number is expected to climb to ninety percent. R-134a is being phased out here in the United States as well and the only real alternative at this time is 1234yf.

This trend only really started to hit US automotive manufacturers back in 2015. Most automotive companies state that it takes an average of five to six years for a vehicle to need an HVAC repair. Next year is when we may really start to see that sticker shock when folks begin bringing in their vehicles for an air conditioning repair. We could have a simple compressor replacement and recharge price increase by hundreds of dollars.

Don’t get me wrong folks, I am not advocating for any illegal product. Frankly, it is not safe and you never truly know what you are getting. That being said, there definitely needs to be more competition introduced into the 1234yf marketplace.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

R-1234yf

The other day I was trying to find a comprehensive listing of which cars were using the newer R-1234yf HFO refrigerant. Over in Europe YF refrigerant is now the standard for all new vehicles. (In some cases R-744 is used as well.) R-134a is no longer used due to its high Global Warming Potential.

A few years back the Environmental Protection Agency issued a new SNAP Rule known as ‘Rule 20.’ This new rule stated that a lot of the most popular HFC refrigerants would no longer be acceptable in new applications. One of the refrigerants and applications listed was R-134a for all 2021 vehicle model years.  This all but dictated that automakers would have to use 1234yf in all of their new vehicles.

Well, as you all know, Rule 20 by the EPA was overturned by Federal Courts. The EPA had overreached their authority and had their proposed rules thrown back in their face. Having this rule thrown out left the future of R-134a uncertain. We all knew that 134a wasn’t going to be around forever. It did have a high GWP and it did need to go… but now there was no government mandate to do so.

Most everyone thought as the years passed by auto manufacturers would begin to switch to 1234yf without a government mandate. After all, it was the cleaner option and other states such as California and New York have begun to phase down HFC refrigerants.  It only made sense to protect yourself and make the switch over now.

Top Selling Cars in 2019

All that being said I was curious exactly what automakers and models of cars are now taking the HFO 1234yf refrigerant. How many of them are still holding onto the past? Since I couldn’t find an exact list I took a different approach.

I googled for a listing of the top selling cars of 2019. What I found was a listing of two-hundred cars from a website called ‘goodcarbadcar.net.’ The listing had sales volume, dollars, etc. I was only interested in the ranking though. What was the number one car sold, number two, etc.

Now that I had my listing I cut it down to the top fifty and then begin going to work. My goal here was to find out what refrigerant each of these 2019 model year cars were using.  Some of these were harder to find than others. In most cases I googled the year, make, model, and ‘owner’s manual.’ Usually I could find the manual and then find the refrigerant type in there.

In other cases I found the manual but the manufacturer kept the type of refrigerant a secret. In fact nearly anything to do with the air conditioning system was kept secret. The most I could find was to either ‘Check Under The Hood,’ for the refrigerant type, or to contact your dealer for maintenance questions. In these circumstances I Googled around a bit more and did my best to fill in the blanks.

The completed table can be found below. Overall, I couldn’t find the refrigerant type for eight vehicles. (If you know what they are please reach out to me and I will update the table.) But, for the others that I did find it painted a pretty clear picture of the refrigerant market today for new vehicles.

Let’s look at the facts first. For the top fifty selling cars in the United States only fifteen of them are still using R-134a. The other twenty-seven are using R-1234yf. Even if we give the missing ten cars the benefit of the doubt and state that they are all using R-134a we are still looking at over fifty percent market share of R-1234yf within the United States. Some folks will say as high as sixty or even seventy percent market share.

Even if it’s just fifty percent that is still a HUGE number and it is only going to continue to grow. Each year more and more auto manufacturers make the switch to 1234yf. You may have noticed that in the table some Makes have a mixture of R-134a and R-1234yf. This is most likely them testing the waters with YF. They want to see if everything works as it should before they go all in on YF.

RankMakeModelRefrigerant
1FordF-SeriesR-1234yf
2DodgeRam PickupR-1234yf
3ChevroletSilveradoR-1234yf
4NissanRogueR-134a
5ChevroletEquinoxR-1234yf
6HondaCR-VR-1234yf
7ToyotaRAV4R-1234yf
8ToyotaCamryR-1234yf
9ToyotaCorollaR-134a
10HondaCivicR-1234yf
11HondaAccordR-1234yf
12FordExplorerR-134a
13FordEscapeR-1234yf
14ToyotaTacomaR-1234yf
15JeepGrand CherokeeR-134a
16NissanSentraR-134a
17ToyotaHighlanderUnknown
18NissanAltimaR-1234yf
19JeepWranglerR-134a
20JeepCherokeeR-134a
21SubaruOutbackR-1234yf
22FordFusionR-1234yf
23SubaruForesterR-1234yf
24GMCSierraR-1234yf
25MazdaCX-5R-134a
26JeepCompassR-134a
27HyundaiElantraR-134a
28DodgeGrand CaravanR-134a
29ChevroletTraverseUnknown
30ChevroletMalibuR-1234yf
31ChevroletColoradoR-1234yf
32HondaPilotR-1234yf
33Toyota4RunnerUnknown
34FordTransitR-134a
35GMCAcadiaR-1234yf
36FordEdgeR-1234yf
37HyundaiTusconR-1234yf
38HyundaiSanta FeR-134a
39VolkswagenTiguanR-1234yf
40SubaruCrossTrekR-134a
41KiaSoulR-1234yf
42GMCTerrainUnknown
43ToyotaTundraUnknown
44NissanVersaR-134a
45BuickEncoreUnknown
46ChevroletTraxUnknown
47DodgeJourneyR-1234yf
48KiaSorentoR-1234yf
49LexusRXUnknown
50ChevroletCruzeR-1234yf

Conclusion

This table provides us with concrete evidence that R-1234yf is taking over the automotive market. If you haven’t come across it yet then I can assure that you will soon. From what I have read the average age of a vehicle that needs an air conditioner repair is between five to six years. So, at that fifty percent market share that we have today we could be looking at half of all vehicle AC repairs being done on YF systems by the year 2025.

R-134a is going the way of R-12. In another ten or fifteen years it’s going to be rare to find an 134a vehicle and when your vehicle does take R-134a you may have to pay a pretty penny to get a recharge. (Just look at how expensive R-12 is nowadays.) The only good news here folks is that there isn’t a mandatory phase out of R-134a yet… so the prices will still stay quite low for the foreseeable future.

The big problem that a lot of end users have with 1234yf is not that it’s a new refrigerant. No, the problem is the cost.  The cost of a pound of R-134a can hover between two to four dollars per pound. The cost of R-1234yf can hover between sixty to seventy dollars per pound. That’s nearly fifteen times more than the cost of R-134a. You can see an example of this cost from our Ebay partner by clicking here.

Because of this huge cost increase there has been a rash of end users manually converting their YF systems back over to R-134a. Hell, there is even an adapter out there for it… Rather these folks like it or not R-1234yf is here to stay and with each passing year the amount of vehicles using it is growing.

For more information on R-1234yf check out our ‘R-1234yf Refrigerant Fact Sheet,’ by clicking here.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources:

RefrigerantHQ's Pressure Charts

The HFO R-1234yf is the refrigerant of the future. Or, at least, that is how it has been marketed. Yf was the first HFO refrigerant to see mainstream attention. A few years back there was immense pressure in the European Union to stop using the HFC R-134a for automotive air conditioning. The pressure was there due to the extremely high Global Warming Potential (GWP) that R-134a has. R-134a has a GWP of one-thousand four-hundred and thirty. It is classified as a super pollutant.

The answer to the world’s problems came with the announcement of the new HFO refrigerant known as R-1234yf. Yf refrigerant has a Global Warming Potential of only four. That is a huge difference when comparing it to other refrigerants on the market today. The only downside for yf is that it is rated as slightly flammable or 2L from ASHRAE and other air conditioning organizations.

The European Union quickly phased down and out R-134a and had their new vehicles start taking R-1234yf. While the acceptance of yf is much slower here in the United States there are numerous vehicle manufacturers who have begun using this refrigerant in their newer model vehicles. With each year that passes more and more vehicles begin taking yf.

To read more about 1234yf please click here to be taken to our official refrigerant fact sheet on yf.

1234yf Pressure Chart

One of the very first steps when it comes to diagnosing a vehicle’s air conditioner is understanding the temperature and the current pressure that your system is operating at. Having these facts along with the saturation point, the subcool, and the superheat  numbers for the refrigerant you are working on are essential when it comes to really understanding what is going wrong with your system.

The chart below details the pressures and the saturation point, or boiling point, R-1234yf:

°F °C PSI KPA
-94 -70 -9.82 -67.7
-90.4 -68 -9.26 -63.8
-86.8 -66 -8.65 -59.6
-83.2 -64 -7.99 -55.1
-79.6 -62 -7.27 -50.1
-76 -60 -6.49 -44.7
-72.4 -58 -5.65 -39.0
-68.8 -56 -4.73 -32.6
-65.2 -54 -3.75 -25.9
-61.6 -52 -2.69 -18.5
-58 -50 -1.55 -10.7
-54.4 -48 -0.33 -2.3
-50.8 -46 0.99 6.8
-47.2 -44 2.39 16.5
-43.6 -42 3.89 26.8
-40 -40 5.49 37.9
-36.4 -38 7.19 49.6
-32.8 -36 9.01 62.1
-29.2 -34 10.94 75.4
-25.6 -32 12.99 89.6
-22 -30 15.17 104.6
-18.4 -28 17.47 120.5
-14.8 -26 19.91 137.3
-11.2 -24 22.49 155.1
-7.6 -22 25.21 173.8
-4 -20 28.08 193.6
-0.4 -18 31.11 214.5
3.2 -16 34.29 236.4
6.8 -14 37.64 259.5
10.4 -12 41.17 283.9
14 -10 44.87 309.4
17.6 -8 48.75 336.1
21.2 -6 52.82 364.2
24.8 -4 57.09 393.6
28.4 -2 61.56 424.4
32 0 66.23 456.6
35.6 2 71.11 490.3
39.2 4 76.21 525.4
42.8 6 81.54 562.2
46.4 8 87.09 600.5
50 10 92.89 640.5
53.6 12 98.92 682.0
57.2 14 105.21 725.4
60.8 16 111.75 770.5
64.4 18 118.55 817.4
68 20 125.63 866.2
71.6 22 132.98 916.9
75.2 24 140.62 969.5
78.8 26 148.54 1024.1
82.4 28 156.77 1080.9
86 30 165.3 1139.7
89.6 32 174.15 1200.7
93.2 34 183.32 1263.9
96.8 36 192.82 1329.4
100.4 38 202.65 1397.2
104 40 212.85 1467.5
107.6 42 223.39 1540.2
111.2 44 234.29 1615.4
114.8 46 245.57 1693.1
118.4 48 257.24 1773.6
122 50 269.31 1856.8
125.6 52 281.76 1942.7
129.2 54 94.75 653.3
132.8 56 100.09 690.1
136.4 58 105.62 728.2
140 60 111.34 767.7
143.6 62 117.26 808.5
147.2 64 123.38 850.7
150.8 66 129.71 894.3
154.4 68 136.26 939.5
158 70 143 986.0

 

Conclusion

There you have it folks. I hope this article was helpful and if you find that something is inaccurate here in my chart please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I have sourced this the best I could but there is always going to be conflicting data.  I’ve seen it multiple times on various refrigerants. I’ll search for a refrigerant’s pressure chart and get various results all showing different pounds per square inch temperatures.

The aim with this article is to give you accurate information so again, if you see anything incorrect please let me know by contacting me here. On top of this post we are also working on a comprehensive refrigerant pressure/temperature listing. The goal is to have every refrigerant out there listed with a pressure/temperature chart that is easily available. 

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

It was announced today via press release from the Chemours company that their new plant located in Ingleside, Texas (Outside of Corpus Christi) is now manufacturing R-1234yf refrigerant. This factory is by far one of the largest and now that it is live the capacity of HFO-1234yf being produced in the world has tripled.

Today the overall demand for 1234yf is still quite low in the United States. In the European Union volume is beginning to pick up due to their mandatory phase out of R-134a. While there are automotive manufacturers here in the US that are switching their vehicles over to yf it is not yet mandatory. Because of this, we are seeing a slow transition cycle.

Along with the slow change over we also have to keep in mind that if a new vehicle with 1234yf rolls off the floor today that same vehicle may not need an air conditioning repair for another four years. The standard amount of time for a new vehicle to need air conditioning repair is between five to six years. So, even though we had a lot of manufacturers and models switch to yf in 2015 we are still a ways out before the demand of yf is heightened due to automotive repairs.

The good news here though is that with this new plant live and producing yf here in the United States we should begin to see the price dip. Yf still continues to be one of the most expensive modern day refrigerants on the market place. Today it ranges between sixty to seventy dollars a pound. (R-134a is about three dollars a pound.) With the increased supply coming into the market we may begin to see this price drop. Well, at least until the demand starts to climb, then we could see prices level back out.

While we mostly know R-1234yf as the new automotive refrigerant it is also important to note that it is used in other various HFO refrigerant blends such as R-455A and R-513A. As more HFOs are developed in the future we may begin to see the versatility of yf expand. If this happens then we could see another effect on the overall demand of the refrigerant. Regardless of the other application market, we can all be certain that the automotive demand is more then enough to satisfy the needs of this production plant.

In my opinion the launching of production of yf at this plant was a bit too early. Now, I didn’t find anything that specifically said that Chemours was going to be producing at maximum capacity or if they were going to slowly start production to meet market needs. I am assuming that they are going to start slow and adjust as the market requires. Either way though, I just don’t see the demand yet. Perhaps Chemours is preparing for the future but if you ask me I would say we are still a few years out before we really see the demand for 1234yf pick up.

Conclusion

In the short term, a savvy investor may have an opportunity if the prices of 1234yf begin to drop due to oversupply. One could wait for the price to bottom out, buy up a few pallets, and then sit on it and wait for the prices to climb. Remember though folks, it’s always a gamble. If the prices do fall whose to say that they’ll go back up? We could be looking at a new normal price point wise on yf with this new plant.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

R-1234yf

A few days back I was speaking to an acquaintance of mine. It was a relaxed setting with a few beers and good food. Sometime during the conversation the topic of refrigerant came up, mainly 1234yf. You see, he manages a service center at a Ford dealership. He has been doing this job for over a decade and this fall was the first time that he came across a vehicle needing an air conditioning repair that used R-1234yf. They didn’t have any on hand and worse yet, they didn’t have a recovery machine fit for 1234yf either. They ended up having to purchase the refrigerant from a local autoparts store and paid way more then they should have for a recovery unit.

Up until this point everyone at the dealership had been trained and accustomed to using R-134a. After all, pretty much every vehicle on the road within the past twenty to thirty years was using the HFC R-134a. The concept of vehicles using an alternative refrigerant, like R-1234yf, was foreign to a lot of service managers and technicians. Service employees could have twenty years of experience and not know the first thing about this new 1234yf refrigerant.

Over in the European Union it was a different story as R-134a had been completely phased out for years now. While they may have run into the same problems we are having today, the length of these were short lived due to the mandatory switching from 134a over to yf. If EVERY new vehicle on the road was taking 1234yf then you are going to run into it quite often and you will begin to know exactly how to handle it. Things are different here in the United States.

As I write this article today there is no set phase down of R-134a in vehicles in the United States. Originally, the goal was to have R-134a labeled as unacceptable in all new vehicles in 2020. (2021 model year.) This deadline was set by the Environmental Protection Agency back in 2015 through their Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP). Years went by as this being the status quo and so vehicle manufacturers here in the US began to slowly switch their vehicles away from R-134a and over to R-1234yf. This trend started in 2015 and with each year that has passed more and more vehicle manufacturers have begun switching more and more models over to yf. Chances are if you check your company’s new vehicles you will see some of them are taking R-1234yf.

There was a wrench thrown into all of this in the summer of 2017. In August of 2017 a federal court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency’s new SNAP rules had overreached the EPA’s authority. I won’t get into all of the court details here, but basically the EPA used the same set of laws in the Clean Air Act that were intended for Ozone depletion refrigerants and applied them to Global Warming refrigerants. Ozone depletion does not equal Global Warming. They are two different matters and that is how the court saw it as well. The EPA’s proposed 2020 phase down of R-134a was thrown out the window. There were numerous appeals by varying companies and there was even one to the Supreme Court but the court rejected the case and the previous ruling standed. Today we are in limbo between R-134a and R-1234yf.

Preparing for 1234yf

Regardless of what happened in the courts the fact of the matter is that 1234yf is coming. The only thing the court ruling did was muddy the waters and slow down the rate of change. Now instead of having a mandated change and forcing everyone to ‘rip the band aid off’ we now this slow dribble of vehicles coming into shops with 1234yf refrigerant.

What we find is that service managers and technicians are not prepared. When a vehicle does come in needing a repair there is a scramble to first find a source for the needed yf refrigerant and then to find an adequate recovery and identifier machine compatible with yf. The good news here is that 1234yf and 134a aren’t that different mechanically speaking. A few of the major differences that you will see when dealing with 1234yf are listed below:

  • At the very minimum you will need to purchase a new refrigerant recovery machine if you plan to be working on 1234yf units in the future. The machine will have to meet SAE spec J2843. We recommend purchasing Robinair AC1234-6 recovery machine.
  • There are slight design differences in the design specs of certain components like TXVs, ports, evaporators, and condensers.
  • Service ports are different then 134a. This is done to alert the technician that this is a 1234yf unit and also prevents the technician from accidentally connecting the wrong hose and mixing refrigerants. So even if you aren’t paying attention and try to hook up your 134a hose you’ll quickly realize you’re working on a YF unit. This is very similar to what was done with diesels back in 2007 during the Diesel Exhaust Fluid change. (DEF)
  • With 1234yf systems they have added a Suction Line Heat Exchanger, also known as an internal heat exchanger. This is an additional component located before the expansion valve. It is a state change helper that is used to improve overall efficiency of the unit.
  • The operating pressures and temperatures of 1234yf are VERY similar to that of 134a. This was done intentionally to make for an easy transition.
  • 1234yf uses PAG oil just like R-134a but please note that it does use a different type of PAG oil. It is always safest to read the sticker labels under your hood or to consult the instruction manual before adding in any oil.
  • Evaporator designs must meet JAE standard J2842. Yf is tougher on evaporators then 134a and this new standard is to prevent wear and tear and premature failure.
  • 1234yf is classified by the ASHRAE as a 2L flammable gas. That means that 1234yf is rated as mildly flammable.

Conclusion

The good news here is that we still have some time to prepare before the onslaught of 1234yf repairs begins to hit your dealership. The average length of time before a significant air conditioning repair is needed is between five to six years. Yf really began to pick up steam amongst vehicle manufacturers in 2015 and has increased each year that goes by. So, what that means is that we have five to six years from 2015 before the real quantity of repairs begin to come in. While it’s already 2019 we still have around another year or two before we start seeing yf every day in the shop. The worst thing you can do though is bury your head in the sand and hope that the problem goes away. The change is coming.

Will your dealership be ready? Have you already purchased your yf recovery machine? Do you have a source for purchasing yf refrigerant? If not, then I highly recommend contacting us by filling out the form below to receive a quote. We will get back to you with an aggressive price point. Also, please note that in order to purchase yf you or your technicians will need to be 609 certified with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Lastly, for more information on R-1234yf please click here to be taken to our official 1234yf Refrigerant Fact and Information Sheet.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

 

There is no better indicator or barometer within the industry then the Carrier Corporation. After all, they are one of the biggest and most stable air conditioning manufacturers out there. They are one the ‘trend setters’ within the industry. When a business decision is made everyone watches, observes, and they may even imitate. The same can be said when they choose a new refrigerant.

That is exactly what happened. The Carrier Corporation along with Chemours announced today that Carrier would be transitioning their ducted residential and commercial air conditioning products away from R-410A and over to R-454B. This new refrigerant R-454B, also known as XL41, is an HFO refrigerant from Chemours under their Opteon brand name. The transition for Carrier is scheduled to begin by the year 2023. This is a big deal folks. This could very well be the beginning of the end for R-410A. Especially if other companies began to follow suit.

As most of you know there has been a battle going on for the past few years as to what refrigerant will be the golden choice to replace R-410A. It seems like Puron has only been around for a few years but now there are already companies and countries pushing it out and wanting a better more climate friendly alternative. As I write this article today there is still not one clear and defined winner. None of this isn’t for lack of trying though. There are all sorts of 410A alternatives out there, the problem is none of them were gaining significant traction. This news from the Carrier corporation adds fuel to the fire for R-454B. Along with Carrier some other prominent companies have announced their support for XL41 including Johnson Controls and York. With Carrier coming on board I wouldn’t be surprised if we begin to see more companies announce their support in the not too distant future.

The big distinction here and the reason companies are switching to XL41 is that it has a significantly lessened Global Warming Potential then the other alternatives out there. R-454B has a GWP of only four-hundred and sixty-seven. That is nearly eighty percent less GWP then R-410A and even thirty percent less then the proposed R-32 alternative. This very low GWP gives companies and manufacturers peace of mind knowing that they will meet future climate targets today if they make the switch. I would be apt to purchase one of these machines if I knew it was going to stand the test of time and not have to go through a phase down/phase out period.

The downside though with this newer HFO refrigerant is that ASHRAE has it rated as an A2L. The 2L is what may worry some of you, as that means that the refrigerant has lower flammability rating and a lower burning velocity. While some of you may already have experience working with lower or even mildly flammable refrigerants others may not. In reality though folks, flammable refrigerants are perfectly safe as long as you follow all of the proper precautions and safety procedures.

Conclusion

For more information on R-454B please click this link to be taken to our official fact and information sheet on the refrigerant. This sheet attempts to provide any and all information you would ever need on 454B. Rather it’s the GWP, the chemistry, what’s in the blend, the temperature glide, or anything else we aim to have it in our fact sheet. If while reading you find something that isn’t accurate or if you found that we missed something please do not hesitate to reach out to me and let me know. I want RefrigerantHQ to be a great resource for those of us in the industry and I can’t do that if I have mistakes up!

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

facts

Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to RefrigerantHQ. Today we will be taking an in-depth look at the newer HFO refrigerant from Chemours known as R-454B or XL41. This Opteon HFO refrigerant was created as an alternative to the ever commonly used R-410A Puron. While we have only been using 410A for around ten years or so there is already a push to phase down 410A usage and replace it with a refrigerant with much lesser Global Warming Potential.

One of the top contenders to replace R-410A is this new HFO refrigerant known as R-454B. In this article we’re going to take a look at all of the facts about this refrigerant and also share our thoughts about the refrigerant. If you see anything that is missing or if anything is inaccurate please reach out to me and I will correct as soon as possible.

The Facts

Name:R-454B
Name (2):XL41 (Opteon)
BrandOpteon (Chemours)
Classification:HFOs
Chemistry:HFO Blend: R-32 (68.9%) & R-1234yf (31.1%)
Chemistry (2):Click Here for R-32 Fact Sheet
Chemistry (3):Click Here for R-1234yf Fact Sheet
Status:Active & Growing Market.
Future:Set to Replace R-410A Applications
Application:Residential & Commercial Air-Conditioning.
Application (2):Heat Pumps & Chillers
Replacement For:R-410A Puron
Retrofitting From R-410A?No, New Machines Only.
Why Can't I Retrofit?Due to 2L Flammability Rating.
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:467 (78% Less Then R-410A)
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:Class 2L - Lower Flammability
Lubricant Required:POE
Boiling Point (101.3 kpa):-50.9° Celsius or -59.62° Fahrenheit.
Temperature Glide-1.5 K or -462.37 Fahrenheit
Critical Temperature:77.11 Celsius or 170.60° Fahrenheit
Liquid Density (21.1 °C)996.5 kg/m3 (62.2 lb/ft3)
Auto ignition Temperature:Unknown ( Couldn't Find)
Burning Velocity (23 °C)5.2 cm/s (2.0 in/s)
Molar Mass111.8
Molecular Weight62.6 g/mol
Manufacturers:Chemours
Manufacturing Facilities:United States (Texas)
Form:Gas
Color:Colorless Liquid & Vapor
Odor:Slight, ether-like
EPA Certification Required:Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Require Certification to Purchase?Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Cylinder Color:Undefined by ASHRAE
Safety Data Sheet (SDS)Click here (Sourced from Climalife.co.uk)
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

Thoughts on R-454B

R-454B, or XL41, was invented and designed by the Chemours company as an alternative to R-410A applications. These applications include your traditional home air conditioners, your commercial air conditioners, heat pumps, and the occasional chiller. XL41 is a blended HFO refrigerant is comprised of sixty-eight point nine percent R-32 and thirty-one point one percent R-1234yf.

One of the biggest attractions of R-454B is the savings in whats known as Global Warming Potential, or GWP. Every refrigerant out there rather it is a hundred years old or it was just invented yesterday has a GWP rating. GWP is a measurement on how potent a certain chemical is to the environment. The higher the GWP number the worse it is. Like with all scales, there needs to be a zeroing point. In this case the zero scale is Carbon Dioxide, or R-744. CO2 has a GWP number of one. As a comparison the commonly used R-410A refrigerant has a GWP of two-thousand and eighty-eight.

Looking at that number we can begin to see the problem with R-410A. It is directly contributing to Global Warming and Climate Change. The reason R-454B is being selected for newer applications is due to it’s much lower Global Warming Potential. 454B’s GWP is four-hundred and sixty-seven. That is nearly an eighty percent decrease when compared to Puron. This impressive number puts it at the lowest GWP alternative to R-410A. To give you some perspective, the other contender as an R-410A replacement, R-32, has a GWP of six-hundred and seventy-five. R-454B is an additional thirty percent lower. Along with that, 454B has a zero Ozone Depletion Potential rating so there is no risk there either. It is a very healthy refrigerant for the environment.

R-454B, or XL41, is classified as an HydroFluroOlefin refrigerant. These types of refrigerants, known as HFOs, are known for a few things. The first is that they have significantly lower Global Warming Potential then the commonly used HFC refrigerants of today. This fact right here checks a lot of boxes for business owners and manufacturers and may be enough to get them on board. However, like with any refrigerant, there is always a downside. HFO refrigerants are also known for their flammability. It seems we never can truly ‘win’ with refrigerants. There are always Pros and Cons.

In the case of R-454B it is rated by ASHRAE as an A2L. The A rating is great as it indicates that the refrigerant is not toxic. Other refrigerants with this same ratings are R-22, R-134a, and R-410A. The problem though lies in the 2L rating. This indicates a lower flammability rating for R-454B. Most of the common HFC refrigerants that we handle today are rated as a 1 by ASHRAE. A 1 rated refrigerant indicates that there is no risk of flame propagation. A 2 rated refrigerant has a lower flammability rating. Now, a 2L rated refrigerant means that along with the lower flammability we also have a lower burning velocity. This 2L sits R-454B right in the middle of the flammability refrigerant scale. While HFCs are rated as a 1 other very flammable refrigerants like Propane (R-290) are rated at a 3.

While a flammable refrigerant may sound intimidating and dangerous we should mention that they are perfectly safe and are used everyday throughout various Asian countries such as Japan and Korea. They do this daily and prevent accidents due to two major factors. The first is that they take the proper precautions when installing and handling flammable refrigerants. The second is routine maintenance. If you follow your training and ensure that everything is done by the book you’ll be fine.

Regardless though, the thought of working with flammable refrigerant deters a lot of technicians and contractors from using these newer HFO refrigerants. Lastly, since R-454B has an increased flammability rating then R-410A you are NOT able to retrofit existing 410A machines over to take R-454B. This is due to the specialized parts and components that a flammable refrigerant needs for it to work safely. If you wish to go with R-454B refrigerant you will need to purchase a whole new machine.

A few other notes worth sharing on R-454B:

  • XL41/454B is rated as five percent more efficient then R-410A Puron.
  • 454B offers the lowest GWP alternative to R-410A all without compromising on system performance.
  • While retrofitting isn’t possible, R-454B will not require major equipment modifications.

Conclusion

It is far too early to say rather or not R-454B will be the fabled R-410A killer or not. There are numerous alternatives out there that are all gaining traction. The question now though is will one of these began to gain speed over the others? Will companies around the globe began to pick one over the other? It may already be happening with R-454B. There are numerous articles and stories out there about companies moving away from R-410A and over to R-454B. Just a few of these companies are Carrier, York, and Johnson Controls. These are all huge names in the industry and may indicate a turning point.

But, as I said before folks, at this point it is still a guessing game. The true alternative for R-410A may have not even made it’s debut yet. Time will only tell.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

How Much Does It Cost?

The term Freon is used all over the country to describe the refrigerant that is used in their home, commercial, or vehicle air conditioner. Even though it is used by man the term Freon is actually antiquated and is very rarely used within the HVAC industry. Chances are your air conditioner that you are using right now doesn’t contain Freon.

In fact, the word Freon is actually a brand name from the DuPont, now Chemours, refrigerant company. Yes, that’s right. Freon is just like Coca-Cola or Pepsi. Freon is a brand of refrigerant. There are many brands of refrigerant out there today but the reason we associate Freon with everyone is that Freon was the first mainstream refrigerant that can be traced all the way back to the 1930’s. At that time DuPont and General Motors teamed up together to form R-12 and R-22 refrigerants. These new refrigerants were the first mass produced and widely used refrigerant and air conditioning technologies in the world. DuPont branded these new refrigerants under their trademarked brand name, ‘Freon.’ The Freon refrigerants exploded in popularity and just a few decades later they could be found in nearly every home and office across the country.

All of this changed in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when a team of scientists discovered that these Freon refrigerants contained Chlorine and Chlorine was leaking into the atmosphere and damaging the Ozone layer. Realizing this, hundreds of countries signed what’s known as the Montreal Protocol. This protocol phased out CFC and HCFC refrigerants across the globe. Included in these phased out refrigerants were DuPont’s ever popular ‘Freon’ brand name.

So, What Kind of Refrigerant Do I Need?

Ok, so the old Freon refrigerants are nearly gone nowadays. Yes, there are still some R-22 units out there and some people still need them but R-22 machines were phased out in 2010 so that means at their youngest an R-22 unit is already nine years old. They are quickly approaching the end of their life. The term Freon will be going away with it. So, now the question is what kind of refrigerant do you need? Let’s take a look:

Automotive Application – Nowadays nearly every vehicle is using R-134a refrigerant for their vehicles. In recent years a new refrigerant known as HFO-1234yf is being used on newer models. If you car is a few years old you will need to check if it takes 1234yf or not. Otherwise you are fairly safe to assume that your car is taking R-134a.

Home or Commercial Air Conditioner – These ones can be a little tricky. Depending on when you got your unit you most likely either have an R-22 unit or a R-410A unit. As I said before R-22 was phased out in 2010 for new units. R-410A has been around since 2010 but it’s popularity didn’t really take off until the 2010 deadline hit for R-22.

Refrigerators and Freezers (Home and Commercial) – The go to refrigerant for these applications has been R-404A. There are some other alternatives out there such as CO2 (R-744), R-502, and some other new HFO refrigerants coming out soon.

Conclusion

I hope that this article was able to answer your questions on refrigerant pricing and to also open your eyes on the wide variety there is within the refrigerant industry. There are two things that I want you take from this post. The first is the relative price per pound of the refrigerant you need and the second is the understanding that your contractor needs to make money too. Sure, you might know his price but you should not haggle down to zero. You should negotiate to a fair price that allows profit but also prevents gouging.

Lastly, if you are unsure what type of refrigerant your system needs please check the label/sticker on the machine. Normally it will state the refrigerant that it takes. However, if you still can’t find it then you can either contact the manufacturer or you can call a HVAC professional out to take a look. This is never something that you want to guess at.

Thanks for reading and visiting my site,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

How Much Does It Cost?

Most people couldn’t care less about the pricing of refrigerant. I’m sure you didn’t care at all until your air conditioner broke down. Now you have a contractor at your home or office looking over the damage, or perhaps you have already received a quote from them and you are a little surprised by how much they are charging for refrigerant. Whatever your reason is for reading this article we are going to do our best to answer your question and to give you a fair estimate on what the going price per pound on some of the most common refrigerants on the market place today.

First and foremost, let me first explain that there are hundreds of different types of refrigerants out there. No two refrigerants are the same or work the same either. The air conditioner that you are using is designed specifically for a certain refrigerant and no others. The science of refrigeration and air conditioning all boils down to basic chemistry and understanding when a refrigerant changes states either from gas to liquid or liquid to gas. Each machine is designed to accomdate that refrigernat’s specific saturation point. If you were to add the wrong refrigerant to your air conditioner you could damage or even destroy the system. You wouldn’t put diesel into a gasoline sedan would you? The same principle applies.

In this article we are going to go over some of the most popular refrigerants out there today, their applications, and where they can be found. It will be up to you to determine exactly what refrigerant you need for your repairs.

So, What Kind of Refrigerant Do I Need?

As we mentioned above, there are hundreds of varying kinds of refrigerants out there. A lot of times this can be overwhelming and confusing to a laymen as to what kind of refrigerant they need. The good news here is that for most applications there are only a select few refrigerants that are used here in the United States. In this section below we are going to highlight the most commonly used refrigerants, what their applications are, and what their price per pound is. The price per pound section will have a link to the exact price per pound on that refrigerant.

Let’s dive in and take a look:

  • Automotive Application – Nowadays nearly every vehicle is using R-134a refrigerant for their vehicles. In recent years a new refrigerant known as HFO-1234yf is being used on newer models. If you car is a few years old or brand new then you will need to check if it takes 1234yf or not. Otherwise you are fairly safe to assume that your car is taking R-134a. For those of you who are into restoring classic cars you’ll find that you may end up needing R-12 Freon.
  • Home or Commercial Air Conditioner – These ones can be a little tricky. Depending on when you got your unit you most likely either have an R-22 unit or a R-410A unit. As I said in previous articles, R-22 was phased out in 2010 for new air conditioners. R-410A has been around since 2000, but it’s popularity didn’t really take off until the 2010 deadline hit for R-22. When it comes to cost though you better hope you have a R-410A unit rather than R-22. The difference in price between the two refrigerants is astonishing.
  • Refrigerators and Freezers (Home and Commercial) – The go to refrigerant for these applications has been R-404A. There are some other alternatives out there such as CO2 (R-744), R-502, and some other new HFO refrigerants coming out soon but today if you were having to recharge one of these you are most likely going to run into 404A.

Conclusion

I hope that this article was able to answer your questions on refrigerant pricing and to also open your eyes on the wide variety there is within the refrigerant industry. There are two things that I want you take from this post. The first is the relative price per pound of the refrigerant you need and the second is the understanding that your contractor needs to make money too. Sure, you might know his price but you should not haggle down to zero. You should negotiate to a fair price that allows profit but also prevents gouging.

Lastly, if you are unsure what type of refrigerant your system needs please check the label/sticker on the machine. Normally it will state the refrigerant that it takes. However, if you still can’t find it then you can either contact the manufacturer or you can call a HVAC professional out to take a look. This is never something that you want to guess at.

Thanks for reading and visiting my site,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

How Much Does It Cost?

Hello folks and welcome to RefrigerantHQ. As I write this article today Halloween has just passed and the weather has already begun to get cold. We’re expecting snow in just a few days here in Kansas City. All of this is happening outside and here I am sitting at my desk, sipping on some hot cocoa, and thinking about refrigerant. Yes, I know that sounds rather odd… but that is what we do here at RefrigerantHQ. Refrigerant all the time. Today I am thinking about R-1234yf. What can we expect from it next year? What will consumers be paying for it?

Over the past few years here at RefrigerantHQ we have taken the time to write what’s known as our ‘Price Per Pound’ articles. These articles break down the cost of refrigerant so any laymen can understand it. It takes away that hidden cost and brings it out into the light. The goal of these articles is to arm the homeowner or business owner with enough knowledge so that when they receive a quote for R-1234yf they know where the price should be. This prevents people from being gouged and overcharged, especially during the dead heat of summer.

Now before we go any further into this post I first want to give you a warning that I can be rather long winded. All of this information is good and relevant to your situation, BUT if you are just looking for a basic price per pound price then I suggest you just scroll on down to our ‘Price Per Pound’ section. However, if you’re looking to learn a bit more about your air conditioner then by all means keep reading.

Know This Before Purchasing

Purchasing refrigerant from your contractor isn’t always black and white. There are different factors that need to be considered before you purchase. In this section we are going to take a look at each of these:

You Are Paying For Expertise

Ok folks, so the information that I am going to give you in our ‘Price Per Pound’ section is very nearly, if not exactly, the cost that your technician is paying for their R-1234yf refrigerant. What that means is that you can expect a markup. After all, the technician and the dealership need to make money as well. This is a specialized trade and requires trained expertise in order to succeed in. Thinking that you can do this yourself is never a good idea as there are a lot of intricacies that need to be accounted for. As an example, let’s go through and ask a few simple questions that a technician would either have to do or consider:

  • Do you know how to flush your system?
  • Do you know what refrigerants can be vented?
  • Are you 609 certified with the EPA to handle HFO refrigerants?
  • Do you know how to find, let alone fix, a refrigerant leak?

All of these questions and more are what you are paying your technician for. Remember that they need to make money too, but there is also a fine line between having profit and gouging. Reading this article, and reviewing the price per pound, will allow you to be educated and give you the power to negotiate the price of refrigerant.

Your AC Unit is a Closed System

Refrigerant Cycle in a Closed System
Refrigerant Cycle in a Closed System

Even before you bring your car into the dealership to look at the air conditioner you should be aware that air conditioners are what’s known as closed systems. What that means is that the refrigerant in your air conditioner moves back and forth between different cycles and it, in theory, never runs out or needs refrigerant refilled.

If you find that your unit is low on refrigerant or is completely out do NOT just refill your machine with a new refrigerant. I repeat do NOT do this. Your system does not need a top off. It does not need just a little bit more refrigerant to get by. No. If you are running out of refrigerant that means that somewhere in the refrigerant cycle there is a leak. Your unit is leaking refrigerant and will continue to leak refrigerant until a repair is made. If you dump more refrigerant into it without fixing the leak you are literally throwing money down the drain.

I like to think of it as a above ground pool. If you get a puncture in the pool lining water will leak out. Sure you can always add more water but it’s not fixing the problem. Adding more refrigerant doesn’t fix the problem either. It’s just prolong the inevitable and wasting money.

R-1234yf Price Per Pound

Ok, now we are ready to take a look at the price per pound of 1234yf. First, let me paint a picture for you. Let’s say the air conditioner on your new vehicle went out and you just went past the warranty period. What can you expect repair wise? Well, you will need to repair and replace the part that failed but you will also most likely need to have the refrigerant recharged for your vehicle. But, what price should you pay?

I could tell you the price today, which I will in a bit, but I will also give you kind of a cheat sheet that I like to use when gauging the R-1234yf market price. It’s so simple. All I do is just go to Ebay.com and search for R-1234yf cylinders.  By doing this I can see what the going rate is per pound of R-1234yf. As I write this article today I can see that R-1234yf is priced between six-hundred and seventy to seven-hundred dollars a  ten pound cylinder. Now, let’s do some simple math to get your price per pound. Let’s take the higher amount of seven -hundred just to be safe.

$700 / 10lb cylinder = $70.00 per pound.

There you have it folks, $70.00 for one pound of R-1234yf refrigerant. Some of you may be having sticker shock right now, and yes I agree. It is a very high price especially when compared to R-134a. But, that’s just the way it is unfortunately. Now, please keep in mind that these prices CAN change. To give you a bit more help I have also included a feed from our Ebay partner below that shows you the current market price of R-1234yf:

OMEGA ENVIRONMENTAL TECHNOLOGIES REFRIGERANT R1234YF 10LB CYLINDER 41-50222

$1,839.06
End Date: Thursday Nov-14-2019 6:32:01 PST
Buy It Now for only: $1,839.06
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Honeywell HFO-1234YF Refrigerant 10 lb Cylinder NEW, Sealed, Ships UPS ground

$610.00
End Date: Friday Nov-1-2019 9:55:20 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $610.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Now each car is different and the amount of refrigerant that they need can be different as well. Some only require one pound and others upwards of eight to nine pounds. It is always best to check your owner’s manual or your dealership to see how much you need. In our example we’re going to call it three pounds of refrigerant to get a complete fill up of your vehicle.

3 pounds of refrigerant * $70.00 per pound = $210.00 for a complete fill up.

Conclusion

There you have it folks, that is the true cost per pound of R-1234yf refrigerant. I have said it already in the beginning of this article but I want to emphasize again that you may not pay the price we mentioned above due to your dealership’s markup. They deserve to make money as well and they deserve to be paid for their expertise. Just keep this article in the back of your mind so that when you do receive a quote you can ensure that you are receiving an accurate and fair price.

If you do find that you are being gouged and the dealership won’t budge then you may be able to run by a local auto-parts store to see if they have any yf cans in stock. If they do, then you could save some money by providing the refrigerant to the dealership.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

EU Phasing out HFC

Over the last few years the European Union has experienced a rash of illegal refrigerants, refrigerant thefts, smuggling, and counterfeit refrigerants. Most of the time the refrigerants affected were R-22 or HFCs such as R-134a or R-404A. This time though things are a bit different.

Last month Honeywell worked directly with the Czech Republic’s Customs Office to seize a 1234yf shipment. As most of you know, Honeywell has a patent on 1234yf manufacturing. That means they are the only ones who can manufacture this refrigerant. (Chemours can as well, but that is because they are partnered with Honeywell.)  Besides these two companies no one else is able to legally manufacture 1234yf. That doesn’t stop everyone though, especially rogue companies found in China. Yes, this product that was seized came directly from China. Along with seizing the product Honeywell also took the step to file a suit against a Czech Republic refrigerant distribution company for attempting to distribute illegal product.

Earlier in the same month Honeywell did something similar to a Chinese manufacturer and distributor in Germany. And a few years back Honeywell partnered with the government out of Shanghai to sentence a man convicted of producing counterfeit 1234yf refrigerant. The man who was sentenced served nine months in jail and also paid a hefty fine for the violation.

Causation

All of the above cases were done to protect Honeywell’s monopoly on the 1234yf refrigerant. Some of you may not like that word monopoly, but that is what it is. Honeywell not only invented and patented this refrigerant but they also pushed and lobbied to have it adopted in every new vehicle across the globe. As the years go by Honeywell’s slice of the automotive refrigerant market gets larger and larger as R-134a applications begin to retire.

In Europe it has already happened. As of 2015 no newly manufactured vehicles can use R-134a. That leaves vehicle manufacturers with one of two options. They either use 1234yf or they use the experimental R-744 applications like what Daimler is doing. Most companies opt for 1234yf as it is the easier choice.

Since Europe started this conversion a few years ago it is only fair to have the first waves of counterfeit product arrive there. The price per pound on yf is quite expensive. Here in the United States it is about sixty-five dollars a pound. If we compare that to R-134a’s price per pound of three dollars we can begin to see why counterfeiting has begun. Now, I don’t know the markets over in the European Union, but I imagine yf is just as high if not higher over there. It is only natural for counterfeit product to show up.

Conclusion

There is only one real way I can see this counterfeiting to stop. Sure, Honeywell can keep playing whack-a-mole with these Chinese counterfeiters but it is not addressing the root of the problem. A counterfeit market typically exists because the price point is too high or the availability of the product is too low. By Honeywell addressing these concerns they could very well stop the counterfeit market in it’s tracks. But, that also means that Honeywell may have to lower price on their prized 1234yf refrigerant.

Over here on the Americas’ side I do not believe we’ve seen this problem yet on 1234yf. Yes, we’ve had our share of counterfeit products but that is still mostly HFCs and R-22. As the market for yf grows here we may very well have the same problems the EU is having. Remember, that when purchasing refrigerants to always ensure you are buying from a reputable supplier.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

R-1234yf

By now we all know that R-134a is on it’s way out. It has already been phased out on new vehicles in the European Union for years now. While there was a planned phase out date here in the United States of 2020 (2021 Model Year) by the EPA, it was overturned earlier this year by a federal court. The phase out is still coming though and some States (California and New York) have already announced they will mandate the 2020 deadline even if the EPA does not.

The problem we now have though is the price of 1234yf. Originally, we heard from the manufacturers that the price was so high due to development time and lack of resources to manufacture the product. But now, years have passed and fully functioning manufacturing plants have been opened. Honeywell opened one up in Louisiana and Chemours broke ground on theirs over a year and a half ago in Texas. That isn’t even mentioning the plants in China.

We would think that the price would begin to come down but here we are in 2018 and we are still looking at around seventy dollars a pound wholesale. That is NOT even mentioning the cost to the end user. If we check on E-bay or Amazon we’ll find cans of 1234yf selling for forty or fifty dollars per eight ounces. Let’s look at R-134a pricing now. If we go to Amazon.com we can buy three twelve ounce cans for less then twenty dollars.

Now let’s really do some math. Most cars take anywhere from two to three pounds of refrigerant. Let’s say, for whatever reason, our compressor has cracked and we have lost all refrigerant in the system. We need a new compressor and a complete recharge. Let’s look at the two different refrigerants and what the predicted cost would be to repair at a dealership.

R-134a

For argument’s sake let’s call a new A/C compressor around two-hundred dollars. So, we have the new compressor and the two pounds of refrigerant to fill up. Using the R-134a price we mentioned above we can figure out what the approximate resale price would be. If we break down that twenty dollar price on Amazon by can, then by ounce, and then multiply the ounce price by sixteen ounces we get the price per pound. In this case the price we get is just shy of nine dollars per pound.

So, for this repair we would be looking at:

  • $200 for a compressor
  • $18 for two pounds of R-134a refrigerant
  • $100 for labor.
  • $318 for your grand total to get your AC running again.

R-134yf

Now, going through the same scenario that we laid out above, let’s do the math with the 1234yf refrigerant. The A/C compressor will still be two-hundred dollars. The price we mentioned earlier on 1234yf was around forty-five dollars per eight ounces. Let’s take that number times two to get our per pound price of ninety dollars. Now let’s figure the repair bill:

  • $200 for a compressor
  • $180 for two pounds of 1234yf refrigerant
  • $100 for labor.
  • $480 for the grand total of the repair.

Difference

Obviously, there is a large disparity in price here between the two refrigerants. So large in fact, that 1234yf is ten times the price of R-134a. In this example the customer is paying one-hundred and sixty-two dollars more to repair their air conditioning system and that is assuming that the dealership won’t mark up 1234yf at a higher percentage then they do R-134a.

This difference is causing a lot of gripe and complaints here in the United States. Over in the European Union it isn’t as big of a problem as the price of R-134a has gone up to extreme levels due to the mandatory phase down and phase out of the HFC refrigerant. So, the price disparity between the two refrigerants isn’t as dramatic.

In the US though things are different. Consumers have been paying dirt cheap refrigerant prices for decades now and they are used to it. The moment someone gets one of these high priced repair bills on a faulty yf system they are going to be in for a shock. I can’t even imagine what will happen when refilling a larger vehicle like a semi-truck. I believe this cost difference is what is causing some users to ‘retrofit’ their yf systems back over to R-134a.

Yes, you heard me right. There are quote a few people doing this today. In fact, I found a video about a month ago that gave viewers a ‘How To Guide’ on switching yf over to R-134a. The video has since been taken down (Smart of the creator), but my article can be found by clicking here. This conversion is not only risky to your car and it’s air conditioning components but it is also against the law.

Yes, that’s right folks. This isn’t just about the environment. If you convert your vehicle over like what was done in this video then you are actively breaking Federal Law under Section 203 of the Clean Air Act. What was done in this video is known as ‘tampering’ with a vehicle’s emissions’ control device.

“According to MACSWorldWide.com, ‘Any person other than a manufacturer or dealer who violates the tampering prohibition is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $2,500 per violation.'”

Conclusion

If the price doesn’t come down on yf then I can foresee a lot of these do-it-yourself conversions or retrofits back over to R-134a. While this is illegal, the risk of doing it is so minimal that I can see a lot of folks doing it already today. Heck, there are even conversion port adapters out there so that you can charge R-134a in your yf ports.

The only way I can see this getting better is if the price on yf begins to drop and drop significantly. I just don’t see this happening though as the price and market on yf is controlled by two companies: Honeywell and Chemours. They have a monopoly on this refrigerant and I do not see them giving up their cash cow, especially when it’s just starting to get good as more and more vehicle manufacturers are beginning to switch over to yf.

The other option is if yf price doesn’t go down then the price of R-134a will need to go up, and up dramatically. Maybe, once we get closer to the 2020 deadline and more States phase out 134a we will begin to see the price rise enough to make yf look more attractive. For now, it seems we are stuck with the high price of 1234yf refrigerant.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Hello everyone! I hope your Labor Day is going well. We just got back from our city’s parade and I’ve got a few hours before our barbecue so I thought I’d take some time and get an article out there. I’m going to preface this article with the disclaimer that this is an opinion piece. Take it how you want, but it has been on my mind over the past year or so.

As we all know refrigerants have been phased out or phased down for decades. We started it way back in the early 1990’s with R-12 and other CFCs. Then we focused on HCFCs and now the world is looking at HFCs. With CFCs and HCFCs the goal of the phase out was to stop using Ozone damaging refrigerants. These refrigerants contained Chlorine which did not break down in the atmosphere and ended up harming the Ozone layer.

HFCs were the replacement for these Ozone damaging refrigerants. HFCs did not contain Chlorine and did not harm the Ozone layer. They were also non-flammable and non-toxic. Yes, I am aware there are always exceptions out there, but the most commonly used HFC refrigerants were non-flammable and non-toxic. These HFCs seemed to be the perfect substitute for HFCs and HCFCs.

Fast forward to the present and the world is now looking to phase down or phase out HFC refrigerants across the globe. This time though instead of them damaging the Ozone these refrigerants are contributing to Global Warming. Refrigerants are measured on a scale known as Global Warming Potential, or GWP. The zero scale for GWP is Carbon Dioxide (R-744) with a GWP of one. Popular HFC refrigerants, such as R-134a, have GWP as high as one-thousand four-hundred and thirty. There is an obvious problem here and the continued use of HFC refrigerants will speed up Global Warming. The question now though is what alternatives are out there?

Natural Refrigerants

For a lot of companies and countries the answer has been Hydrocarbons such as R-717 and R-290. These natural refrigerants have a very low Global Warming Potential and they do not deplete the Ozone layer. In fact, R-717 is widely seen as one of the most efficient refrigerants out there. Both of these refrigerants are great for the environment. The downside though is that these refrigerants can be dangerous.

Yes, just like with anything, if the refrigerants and machines are handled correctly and maintained properly then there is little chance of problems, but the chance still persists nonetheless. Let’s look at R-717, or Ammonia, as an example. Ammonia is a great refrigerant but it is toxic if inhaled. In today’s world it is mostly used industrial refrigeration such as meat packing plants and in ice rinks. When a leak does happen it can be deadly. Notice, how I said when? Ammonia leaks occur quite frequently across the Americas. There was a particularly bad one around one year ago in Canada that ended up fatally harming three workers. (Source) When an Ammonia leak occurs an evacuation has to occur. Depending on the size of the leak the evacuation could be a couple of blocks surrounding the facility. It can be that dangerous.

The alternative for Ammonia based systems was R-22. In the 1980’s and 1990’s companies could pick between these two refrigerants for their plants. (Yes, there were more, but I believe these were the main players.) The choice for R-22 is now gone due to the phase outs. Depending on the application, some were using R-134a as an alternative to Ammonia. But now, that too, is being phased out. While R-22 and R-134a were damaging the Climate they were safe. If a leak occurred it wasn’t the end of the world.

Now with the shrinking list of alternative refrigerants more and more companies are leaning towards Ammonia. Yes, there are new HFC and HFO alternatives being developed by Chemours and Honeywell but these have not been perfected yet. You may get one that has a low GWP but has a higher flammability rating. Or, you may get one that still has a somewhat high GWP and it just wouldn’t make sense to base a new machine off of a refrigerant that is only going to be around for a few years.

R-290, or Propane, has a similar story. While yes, it’s not near as deadly as Ammonia, it still has it’s risks. Instead of toxicity being a problem we now have to deal with flammability and flame propagation. If an inexperienced technician attempts to work on an R-290 unit and is not sure what they are doing they could end up igniting the refrigerant. (The worst is the guys who smoke when working on a unit.)

Now picture this, what if we start using R-290 in home based air conditioners? It doesn’t even have to be a split system, it could be a mini-split or even a window or portable unit. Let’s say Mr. Homeowner, who has no idea what he’s doing, decides to tamper with the unit because it’s not blowing cold air. Maybe he thinks it just needs ‘more Freon.’ If the unit was using Puron then the homeowner would recharge, waste his money, and think he did some good. However, if the unit contained R-290 the results could be far worse.

HFOs and Alternative HFCs

In my opinion, HFOs are much safer then Hydrocarbons, but there is still that safety risk out there. Let’s look at everyone’s favorite HFO target, 1234yf. Now, I know this horse has been beaten to death, but I’m going to bring it up one more time. YF is rated as an A2L from ASHRAE. That 2L means that YF is flammable and has a chance to ignite. What kills me here is that there was such a push to get YF rolled out to new vehicles that instead of rating it as a standard A2 refrigerant they instead created a whole new flammability called 2L. (Lower Flammability.) So, they’re admitting to it being flammable, but only slightly.

The whole controversy on YF started years ago when the European Union was looking for a suitable alternative to R-134a. There were hundreds of tests conducted across Europe and the World to view the viability of 1234yf. In one of these tests the Daimler company out of Germany found that after the vehicle suffered an impact and the compressor cracked open the HFO YF refrigerant ignited when it was exposed to the hot engine. (For more on this check out our YF fact sheet by clicking here. The video of the ignition is at the bottom.)

Needless to say, this test result shocked Daimler and they published their findings to the world. The other companies and countries stated that Daimler’s test could not be reproduced and that it was a non-issue. The world moved forward with the somewhat dangerous 1234yf. Daimler, being the innovators they are, decided to instead move forward with a completely different automotive refrigerant, R-744.

While 1234yf is by far one of the most popular HFC alternatives on the marketplace today there are others that have similar problems. One that comes to mind right away is R-32. R-32 is an HFC refrigerant that is beginning to see more popularity for it’s usage in home and commercial air conditioners. R-32 is an alternative to the standard R-410A that is found in most home units. The goal of R-32 was to reduce the GWP number when compared to R-410A. 410A has a GWP of two-thousand and eighty-eight while R-32 has a GWP of six-hundred and seventy-five. This is a significant reduction, but the GWP is still quite high when comparing to Hydrocarbons or HFOs. Another very important point is that R-32 is rated as an A2 refrigerant. There’s that 2 again. 2 means flammable except with this one we don’t even get the L for lightly flammable.

So again, I’m going to illustrate the similar scenario we mentioned above. Picture a homeowner, who doesn’t know what they are doing, trying to either retrofit his existing R-22 over to R-32 or perhaps he just wants to recharge his R-32 machine. Without the proper training and knowledge this can end in disaster.

Conclusion

So, now here we are sacrificing technician and public safety for the betterment of the Climate and environment. I understand that Global Warming is a crisis and that it needs to be dealt with, but is it really worth increasing possible risk and danger of everyday workers and people? It appears that in everyone’s haste to move away from HFC refrigerants and to save the environment the thought of safety has taken a backseat.

I mean, if we wanted to get really aggressive in the fight against climate change why not start using Ammonia in nearly every application? After all, it has a GWP of zero and is extremely energy efficient. (I’m being sarcastic here, if you couldn’t tell!)

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

R-1234yf

A reader reached out to me today and told me that I had to watch a YouTube video. I pulled it up not really knowing what to expect. It definitely surprised me. The video is a do-it-yourself guide on how to convert your vehicle’s R-1234yf system over to R-134a. Yes, you read that right. I didn’t have that backwards. We have end users actively converting HFO systems back over to HFCs. I am sure most of us knew this would be happening on one off bases here and there but I didn’t expect to see a full do-it-yourself guide for everyone to watch and learn.

As most of you know, I began my career in the heavy-duty diesel industry. I remember back in 2007 when a new regulation went into effect for our trucks. All new vehicles were to be equipped with a Diesel Particulate Filter, or a DPF. Along with that you had a new fluid to add to your vehicle every so often called Diesel Exhaust Fluid. The point of this was to reduce the pollutants of semi-trucks that move all over the country’s roads. (After all, trucking is the life blood of the country.) While most fleets adapted to the change without issue there were guys out there, mainly owner-operators, that decided they didn’t like the DPF on their new truck. These guys came up with their own work-around that completely bypassed the particulate filter. It wasn’t legal, it wasn’t right, and it caused a ton of damage to the vehicle. But hey, they got their work around and got to do it ‘their,’ way.

We’re seeing a very similar thing here. People assume that R-1234yf and R-134a can be interchangeable. Yes, the pressures between the two refrigerants are very close to each other, but they are NOT exact. Click here to see a pressure comparison chart, courtesy of Lexissecurities.com. (Third page down) As you can see, the two refrigerants meet at thirty degrees Celsius, but after that they differ. Like with any air conditioning equipment the parts on your 1234yf vehicle are specifically manufactured to take 1234yf and no other refrigerants. Contaminating your system with a foreign refrigerant will at best case shorten the life of your compressor and other components. At worst, it will permanently damage your system causing an entire replacement.

When watching this video you’ll notice that he had to get a specific adapter just so he could insert the R-134a refrigerant into the system. This should have been a red flag. There is a reason why there are two different fittings between R-1234yf and R-134a. It is to prevent accidental contamination. I’m not sure why these adapters exist, but there must be a market for them or else they wouldn’t be found in auto parts stores or online. On the upside here, in this video the narrator did go through the trouble of vacuuming out the remaining R-134a from his system. So, we don’t have a contamination of mixed refrigerants… we just have all of the wrong refrigerant.

The video in question can be found below:

The Why?

Now there is one main reason for someone to do this: Money. Yes, it’s all about money and savings folks. R-1234yf is not easily found in stores at this time. Yes, it is available at online sites like Amazon.com and also through certain auto-parts stores but it is hit and miss. While the availability is a problem it is not the main gripe from end-users. R-1234yf is significantly higher in price then it’s predecessor R-134a. Let’s do a comparison real quick just to show the price difference. We’ll use Amazon.com as a point of reference just to make things easy:

  • R-134a: Three twelve ounce cans are for sale right now at $19.95. (Price can change at any time.) Let’s do some math now and break this down by price per ounce. $19.95 / 36 ounces = $00.55 per ounce for R-134a.
  • R-1234yf: Four eight ounce cans are for sale right now at $168.99. (Price can change at any time.) Let’s do some math now and break this down by price per ounce. $168.99 / 32 ounces = $5.28 per ounce for R-1234yf.
  • That is an eight-hundred and sixty percent increase in price between the two refrigerants.

Now, we can begin to see the end-users’ reasoning here. That is one hell of a price increase. Now if we couple that with the fact that not many stores handle 1234yf we find that most car owners end up having to go to the dealership for air conditioning repairs. I can only imagine the mark-up on 1234yf. Ok so, we understand the end-users reasoning but now we need to look at the consequences of converting a system over to R-134a.

Consequences

As with any action there are always consequences. In the case of this moving a vehicle from 1234yf over to 134a we have two distinct consequences:

The first is that by doing this switch you are actively harming the environment. The point of 1234yf is to reduce the overall Global Warming Potential (GWP) of vehicles and the refrigerants that they use. R-134 has a GWP of fourteen-hundred and thirty times that of Carbon Dioxide. Inversely, R-1234yf has a GWP number of four times that of Carbon Dioxide. Beginning to see the difference here? If you switch your unit back to 134a you are actively harming the environment.

The second reason, and the one that will most likely get everyone’s attention, is the Federal Government. Yes, that’s right folks. This isn’t just about the environment. If you convert your vehicle over like what was done in this video you are actively breaking Federal Law under Section 203 of the Clean Air Act. What was done in this video is known as ‘tampering,’ with a vehicle’s emissions control device.

According to MACSWorldWide.com, “Any person other than a manufacturer or dealer who violates the tampering prohibition is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $2,500 per violation.” 

That is quite the fine and if you get caught doing this that extra mark-up at the dealership might not seem so bad. Also, see the below excerpt from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. Trust me in saying this folks, the Federal Government does not fool around with this stuff. Ask yourself is it really worth it?

Tampering. The CAA prohibits anyone from tampering with an emission control device on a motor vehicle by removing it or making it inoperable prior to or after the sale or delivery to the buyer. A vehicle’s emission control system is designed to limit emissions of harmful pollutants from vehicles or engines. EPA works with manufacturers to ensure that they design their components with tamper-proofing, addresses trade groups to educate mechanics about the importance of maintaining the emission control systems, and prosecutes cases where significant or imminent harm is occurring. – EPA.Gov Source

Conclusion

I am hoping that this isn’t the start of a trend. Remember folks, that the whole reason we’re moving away from R-134a is to reduce Greenhouse Gases and slow Global Warming. By having end-users actively retrofitting their systems back to R-134a we are defeating the entire purpose of this phase down. Now, I wasn’t really around for the whole R-12 phase out. (I was only seven in 1993.) so I don’t know if this was common place in the early stages of the R-12 phase out or not. Regardless, it needs to stop.

I’m hoping that writing this article we can grab the attention of other users out there who are thinking about doing this conversion and steer them away from the cliff. Sure, you might save a little bit of money upfront but you have to ask yourself is it really worth it in the long term? Also, maybe it’s time we get some 1234yf recharge kits out there so that we can prevent these types of retrofits in the future. If they have access to a recharge kit then maybe they will not go down the path of 134a.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

I saw this news story come across my e-mail this morning and needless to say, I was surprised. It’s not everyday you see that Chemours and Arkema partnering up with one another. In fact, in the recent past they have been fairly bitter rivals going back and forth in HFC court battles. Arkema was one of the plaintiffs in the law-suit against the Environmental Protection Agency and their proposed HFC phase outs. (Chemours was on the losing side.) This back and forth battle all had to do with the new HFO refrigerant line. Arkema was trying to delay the transition away from HFCs while Chemours was pushing ahead as fast as possible.

Over the recent years Chemours and Honeywell have been very protective of their HFO brands Opteon and Solstice. In fact, they have patents on most of their newer HFO refrigerants which prevent the other larger manufacturers like MexiChem and Arkema from manufacturing their own versions. It makes perfect sense and it’s a good business decision, but it does pose a problem of too little competition in the market. More or less, Chemours and Honeywell have a monopoly on the developing HFO refrigerant market. They control the price and the marketplace.

There was a step forward announced yesterday between Chemours and Arkema on Chemour’s Opteon XP40 refrigerant. (R-449A) The two companies both sent out a press release stating that Arkema is now a certified distributor within the European Union. (For those who don’t know Arkema is a French based company.) This step allows Chemours to enter the European Union market with their newer XP40 refrigerant at a pivotal time. Across the EU companies are looking for alternative lower GWP refrigerants to be compliant with the F-Gas Regulations and that’s not even mentioning the sky-high prices that R-404A hit in the European Union last year.

Opteon XP40 was seen as a perfect fit as it is a near drop-in replacement product for R-404A and R-507A. This also gives Arkema a viable alternative option to all of their customers. They will be able to market this Chemours product under their own Forane brand name (Forane 449A), so many customers may not even know that it is a Chemours’ product. In most cases it will be seamless, but I do have to wonder if it is a bit awkward for Arkema. After all, they are used to being a manufacturer, not a distributor.

About Arkema

When I think of refrigerant manufacturers four names pop right into my head. Chemours, Honeywell, MexiChem, and Arkema. Now, obviously, the first two Chemours and Honeywell are the biggest. I like to think of these guys as our ‘gold’ manufacturers. We see a lot of innovation and new technologies from these companies and they have plants and factories across the globe. Chemours’ revenue in 2017 was over six billion dollars. Honeywell was forty billion.

Our ‘Silver’ refrigerant manufacturers are MexiChem and Arkema. These companies are very large producers as well and have very recognizable brand names across the industry. While they are not the size of Chemours or Honeywell they are nothing to sneeze at. MexiChem’s 2017 revenue was just shy of six billion dollars. (Keep in mind that includes plastics and other manufacturing.) Arkema’s revenue from 2015 was over seven billion dollars. (Again, more products then just refrigerants.)

Arkema is a French based company headquartered just outside of Paris. They are a fairly ‘new’ company having been founded in 2004. I say ‘new’ in quotations as Arkema is as new as Chemours was. (Chemours was just an off-shoot of DuPont.) Arkema was an off-shoot of the French oil company known as Total. Total is one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world.

Arkema has three main divisions: Coating Solutions, Industrial Chemicals, and Performance Products. They are one of the world’s largest producers of fluorinated chemicals under their brand name Forane. Their refrigerants and their Forane brand name can be found across the globe and are recognizable to most folks within the industry. Forty percent of their total sales take place within the European Union. Another thirty percent take place Americas. In fact, their operation sounds very similar to a Belgian based company that I work for during the day.

What is XP40?

R-449A, or Opteon XP40, is a new HFO refrigerant blend comprised of R-32, R-125, R-1234yf, and R-134a. This refrigerant, like Honeywell’s R-407F, was designed as a replacement product for R-22, R-404A, and R-507A. The difference here is that this an HFO refrigerant rather than an HFC. The XP40 is non Ozone depleting and has a GWP number of one-thousand two-hundred and eighty-two. That’s about five-hundred less then R-22 and two-thousand six-hundred and forty less than R-404A. That is a HUGE reduction in GWP on 404A applications. XP40 is non-toxic and non-flammable so safety is not an issue either. Along with that the Opteon XP40 is actually more energy efficient then CO2.

The best thing about XP40 though is that it is designed as a more or less drop-in replacement to R-404A. What that means is very little retrofitting work for the customer and for the contractor. XP40 can be used in supermarkets (Racks, walk-in coolers/freezers), food service, cold storage, food processing, chemical processing, and even in your local ice rink. I’ve written about XP40 in the past and it’s potential applications in ice rinks.

While I don’t see XP40 sticking around forever as it still does have a GWP of over one-thousand I can safely say that it is a definite stand-by and a step in the right direction. Once we move all of the higher GWP R-404A and R-22 systems over to a lesser GWP refrigerant like XP40 we can then begin looking at future refrigerants with even less Global Warming impact.

Conclusion

As I said in the beginning of this article I was surprised to see Chemours and Arkema partner together. I’m very anxious to see how this partnership works between them. Will Arkema welcome their new role as just a refrigerant distributor? Will Chemours also go through other channels to distribute their HFO line within the European Union, or will they stay loyal to Arkema? How does Honeywell view this arrangement? This will definitely be an interesting arrangement.

Oh, and I hope you liked the featured picture for this article. I took this last year when I was in Paris for work. You can see the Eiffel back there if you look hard enough!

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

 

For those of you who do not know, I am originally from Michigan. While I haven’t lived there for twenty or more years the state has always had a fond place in my heart. My extended family still live up there and I occasionally visit. It only makes sense for me to be a Red Wings fan. (If you couldn’t tell by the featured image!) After all, they are the only true hockey team out there…right?

Hockey, along with ice skating and curling, all depend on ice rinks. In the past ice rinks were rather isolated to colder climates due to the limits in technology but now over the years we can now find ice rinks as far south as Texas and Florida. The number of ice rinks have exploded, but what kind of refrigerants are they using today?

Depending on where you go in the world you will most likely find an ice rink using either R-717 (Ammonia) or R-22 (Freon). Here in the United States R-22 is most common and as all of you know it is being phased down and will be phased out in just over a year and a half. (2020 production/imports will stop.) The question now is what will all of these ice rink owners do if they need a repair or maintenance on their systems?

Most of the rinks out there today are older, some even as old as twenty or more years. In the past when a repair was needed they would pay for the parts and then a recharge but now with the rising price of R-22 even the smallest of repair can become a huge burden to the owner rather it be a businessman or a city. A lot of us cringe when trying to quote a homeowner for a few pounds of R-22. Now think about charging a customer for thousands of pounds of R-22. The price is just not feasible in today’s world and even if your customer could afford the recharge whose to say that they might not have a different problem months down the road and have to pay again for another recharge?

NHL & Chemours

The National Hockey League has launched a new initiate known as ‘Greener Rinks.’ The goal with this project is to provide more climate friendly ice rinks across North America. Today there are approximately forty-eight hundred rinks between the United States and Canada. The NHL’s initiative looks to tackle a variety of issues to ensure that their rinks are as climate friendly as possible. Some of these include replacing diesel run ice resurfacers with electric, replacing high intensity lights with LEDs, improvements to ice monitoring to ensure the proper thickness is met, and lastly refrigerants and refrigerant equipment.

It was announced today through a press release that the Chemours company (Formerly DuPont Refrigerants) is partnering with the National Hockey League in their Greener Rinks Initiative. This partnership isn’t just dedicated to the NHL’s arenas but instead to all aspects of hockey rather they be in community ice rinks or in large scale arenas like the Red Wings! The hope is to push these conversions and switches to all aspects of the country, not just to the big cities.

Chemours brings to the table eighty-five years of experience in the refrigerant industry. Some of you may not be as familiar with the Chemours name but I am sure you will recognize DuPont. Chemours is a split off from the original DuPont company and a lot of the same people that were at DuPont migrated over to the new Chemours Company. In fact it was often called the ‘Billion Dollar Startup.’

The goal of this partnership is to provide ice rink owners and cities the education and the possible alternatives to the expensive and dying R-22 refrigerant. When looking for alternatives business owners have a few key features that they are looking at:

  1. No Ozone depletion potential.
    1. Ozone depletion is the exact reason why we are phasing out R-22. Any replacement refrigerant would HAVE to have no Ozone depletion potential.
  2. Low Global Warming Potential or GWP.
    1. GWP is the new Ozone. In other words, now that the worry on the Ozone is gone there is a new concern about the GWP on all of these commonly used HFC refrigerants like R-404A. Any refrigerants with a high GWP are already being phased out or they are on the chopping block.
  3. Safety
    1. This is a big one as well as there are alternative refrigerants out there that may provide a great solution but may be either flammable or toxic. A great example here is R-717, or Ammonia. While R-717 is one of the most efficient refrigerants on the market it is also highly toxic and if a leak occurred things could get very messy and costly.
  4. Cost
    1. While we would all like to believe that these ice rink owners want to convert to alternative refrigerants out of the goodness of their hearts a lot of the time it’s going to boil down to cost. That’s exactly why there are so many R-22 rinks out there still today. Owners aren’t going to replace these expensive machines until they absolutely have to. Having a lower cost alternative refrigerant, especially one that can retrofit, is the perfect way to get these old units switched over to a more climate friendly refrigerant.

Chemours has committed to helping ice rink owners to finding the perfect alternative refrigerant for their needs. There are so many variables that have to be considered before selecting the proper refrigerant. How old is the equipment on sight? What safety standards are required? What performance or energy cost? I could sit here and try to go through everyone of these scenarios but it would serve you better to contact Chemours direct by clicking here. You can then be consulted by an expert who will guide you through exactly what kind of refrigerant you need.

Chemours’ Opteon XP40

One of the most popular alternative refrigerants to R-22 in ice rinks is the Opteon XP40. (R-449A) The reason for that is that older R-22 systems can be retrofitted over to accept XP40. That means significantly less cost to the business owner. I know if it was me, I would like to extend my current equipment as long as I could instead of having to pay millions for a completely new system.

R-449A, or Opteon XP40, is a new HFO refrigerant blend comprised of R-32, R-125, R-1234yf, and R-134a. This refrigerant, like Honeywell’s R-407F, was designed as a replacement product for R-22, R-404A, and R-507. The difference here is that this an HFO refrigerant rather than an HFC. HFO’s are the new lines of refrigerant being developed by Honeywell and Chemours.

The XP40 is non Ozone depleting and has a GWP number of one-thousand two-hundred and eighty-two. That’s about five-hundred less then R-22 and four-hundred less then Honeywell’s R-407F HFC. It is non-toxic and non-flammable so safety is not an issue. Along with that the Opteon XP40 is actually more energy efficient then CO2. The savings aganist CO2 is a big deal as that is one of the competing alternative refrigerants for ice rinks. While the popularity of CO2 ice rinks has not taken off yet the technology for Co2 refrigerant systems is evolving rapidly. (It has already been adapted for usages in automobiles in Germany.)

While XP40 checks most of the boxes that we mentioned earlier there is one downside that I want to point out. It’s the high GWP number. While, yes, it is lower then R-22 and other HFC refrigerants out there it is still relatively high. A high GWP number means that the refrigerant very well may be targeted for phase down or phase out.

Conclusion

Chemours’ partnership with the National Hockey League will benefit both companies greatly. Chemours will get their Opteon brand promoted across the NHL and the NHL will move closer to achieving their greener ice rinks initiative.

Converting all of the ice rinks over to climate friendly refrigerants is going to be a large endeavor. In the short term, especially as R-22 rises in price, I could see retrofits dominating the market. It is the ‘easy’ solution. Chemours is in a great position here with their XP40 product. But, as these current units age and eventually get to expensive to repair a new more permanent refrigerant solution will be needed. What will it be? Opteon? Solstice? Ammonia? Carbon Dioxide? Time will tell.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

 

Opteon and Solstice refrigerants are brand names of a new line of refrigerants known as Hydrofluoroolefins. These refrigerants are very similar to their sister classification known as Hydroflurocarbons. Much like HFCs HFO refrigerants are comprised of Hydrogen, Fluorine, and Carbon. Chemically, the only difference here between HFCs and HFOs is that HFOs are unsaturated meaning that they have at least one double bond of carbon. These double bonded molecules are known as Olefins or Alkenes. This is where the name Hydrofluroolefins comes from. While HFOs may have been around for a while there was never a demand for them. HFCs were the favored refrigerant when CFCs and HCFCs went away in the 1990’s. It was in the early 2000’s that things began to change. That was when the real push began to push out HFC refrigerants and to find viable alternatives through either Natural Refrigerants or through HFOs. The goal of HFO refrigerants is to provide an alternative refrigerant that is safe, non Ozone depleting, and with a relatively low Global Warming Potential number.

The first mainstream HFO refrigerant is known as 1234yf. This refrigerant was designed to be a replacement for the very common HFC R-134a. 134a is used in nearly every car on the road today for air-conditioning. If you’ve ever run into an HFO refrigerant before chances are it was 1234yf. With each passing year more and more cars on the road are using 1234yf instead of R-134a. In fact, R-134a is banned from use in newer models within the European Union. There is already a regulation on the books here in the United States that does the same thing for 2021 model year. (2020 year.)

As I said above the Opteon and Solstice names are brand names from the two biggest refrigerant manufacturers in the world: Honeywell and Chemours. (Chemours was formerly DuPont.) These two companies have been pouring millions of dollars into research and development to find the next biggest and greatest refrigerant to replace HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A.

Chemours & Opteon

First up is Chemours and their Opteon brand name. For those of you who do not know Chemours is a split off from the original company known as DuPont. I’m sure you’ve all heard of DuPont. Well they separated their refrigerant side of the business into a completely new company called Chemours. Chemours does not report to DuPont. They are their own entity.

As far as HFO refrigerants they are pouring a ton of money into developing new products on top of building a new state of the art plant in Corpus Christi, Texas. They broke ground on this facility earlier this year. Once completed this new manufacturing facility will triple Chemours’ output of HFO refrigerants.

Opteon refrigerant’s official page can be found by clicking here. So far there are about six HFO refrigerants added to the Opteon line. They are as follows:

Honeywell & Solstice

Just like with Chemours the Honeywell Corporation has their own private branded HFO refrigerant line known as Solstice and just like Chemours they are pouring millions into research and development as well as manufacturing power. In fact, I would say that Honeywell is a bit ahead of the game on the manufacturing side of things. Their HFO manufacturing plant opened for business earlier this year and is producing refrigerant as we speak.

Solstice refrigerant’s official page can be found by clicking here. So far there are six HFO refrigerants added to the Solstice line. They are as follows:

Conclusion

Rather you like it or not HFO refrigerants are the refrigerant of the future. HFCs are going away and in fact are already seeing a shrinking marketplace both in the European Union and here in the United States. If you haven’t seen or heard of these Solstice and Opteon brand names before I guarantee you that you will shortly.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

R-1234yf

R-1234yf, or HFO-1234yf is soon to be one of the most popular refrigerants in the world. Making it’s debut in the early 2000’s it has quickly rose to power and will soon be the dominant refrigerant in the automotive industry. Today, as I write this in October of 2017 there are approximately thirty-five million cars on the road that are using 1234yf. This number will only grow as R-134a is no longer allowed on newer models in the European Union and will be banned from newer models in the United States by 2020. (2021 model year.)

With this refrigerant being in such high demand I have found very little information about it. There seemed to be a scattering and mish mash of data from various websites across the internet. My goal here with this post is to give the most comprehensive and complete guide to all of the facts, questions, and points of note on 1234yf. Let’s take a look:

The Facts

Name:HFO-1234yf
Name - Scientific:2,3,3,3 -
Tetrafluoropropene
Name (2):R-1234yf
Name (3):Opteon YF (Chemours' Brand)
Name (4):Solstice YF (Honeywell Brand)
Classification:Hydrofluroolefin
Chemistry:Carbon, Hydrogen, Fluorine with a double Carbon bond.
Chemistry (2):
Status:Active and Growing Market
Applications:Mobile Air Conditioning (Automotive) and Domestic Refrigeration
Replacement For:HFC R-134a and CFC R-12
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:4
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:2L (Mildly flammable.)
Lubricant Required:Pag Oil (Check unit for specific type.)
Boiling Point:−29°C (−22°F)
Critical Temperature:95°C (203°F)
Critical Pressure:34 bar(a)
Auto ignition Temperature:405°C (761°F)
Manufacturers:Honeywell, Chemours, and Arkema
Manufacturing Facilities:Texas, Louisiana, & China
Form:Liquefied Gas
Color:Clear
Odor:Slight
EPA Certification Required:609
Require Certification to Purchase?Yes, 609
Cylinder Color:White with Red Band
Cylinder Design:Fitted with left-handed valve that will be CGA 166 type.
Cylinder Design (2):Contains a pressure relief valve on the cylinder shoulder.
Price Point:Very high price when compared to R-134a.
Where to Buy Can or Cylinder?Amazon.com, O'Reillys, Napa, Autozone, Dealerships
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

1234yf Pressure Chart

Knowing the pressure and the temperatures associated to the machine you are working on is essential to being able to diagnose any possible issues. Without knowing the temperatures you are more or less walking blind. These pressure checks give you the facts so that you can move onto the next step of your diagnosis. Instead of pasting a large table of information here I will instead direct you to our specific R-1234yf refrigerant temperature page. This can be found by clicking here.

Points of Note

Ok, so we’ve got the basic facts out of the way now on this refrigerant. Now let’s take a look at some of the more interesting points about this refrigerant.

  • As I am sure most of you know 1234yf is meant to take the place of the very popular HFC R-134a refrigerant. This has already happened in the European Union as of January 1st, 2017 and will be happening in the United States by the year 2020. (Model year 2021.) Know that those dates are the deadline though and some manufacturers are already using 1234yf on newer vehicle models.
  • R-134a and 1234yf systems are very similar to each other. In fact this was one of the reasons that 1234yf was chosen as an alternative refrigerant. A few of the major differences can be read below:
    • Slight design differences in the design specs of certain components like TXVs, ports, evaporators, and condensers.
    • Service ports are different then 134a. This is done to alert the technician that this is a 1234yf unit and also prevents the technician from accidentally connecting the wrong hose and mixing refrigerants. So even if you aren’t paying attention and try to hook up your 134a hose you’ll quickly realize you’re working on a YF unit.
    • With 1234yf systems they have added a Suction Line Heat Exchanger, also known as an internal heat exchanger. This is an additional component located before the expansion valve. It is a state change helper that is used to improve overall efficiency of the unit. You may have even noticed these on newer model 134a systems as well. There are no moving parts on this addition as it is part of the hose line.
    • The operating pressures and temperatures of 1234yf are VERY similar to that of 134a. As I said before this was done intentionally to make for an easy transition. Refer back to my fact sheet above to see the boiling temperatures.
    • 1234yf uses PAG oil just like R-134a but please note that it uses a different type of PAG oil. It is always safest to read the sticker labels under your hood or to consult the instruction manual before adding in any oil.
    • Evaporator designs must meet JAE standard J2842. YF is tougher on evaporators then 134a and this new standard is to prevent wear and tear and premature failure.
  • 1234yf is classified by the ASHRAE as a 2L flammable gas. That means that 1234yf is rated as mildly flammable. Depending on who you are this could be a big deal or it couldn’t matter at all. There are two ways to look at this. Your car is already carrying gasoline in it and I can assure you that gas is far more flammable then 1234yf. On the other hand adding more flammable liquids to your car only increases your chance of fire during a collision.
  • At the very minimum you will need to purchase a new refrigerant recovery machine if you plan to be working on 1234yf units in the future. The machine will have to meet SAE spec J2843. I will go into this further in our tools section further on down the page.
  • YF’s price is significantly higher than what you are used to with a R-134a cylinder. A typical thirty pound cylinder of 134a would be around one-hundred and twenty dollars. If we divide that up that’s about four dollars a pound. Conversely, the cost of a ten pound cylinder of 1234yf is around seven-hundred dollars. Let’s divide that up as well. After the math we get seventy dollars a pound. That is a sixteen-hundred and fifty percent increase in cost. There are going to be a lot of shocked people when this refrigerant begins to get popular.
  • You may not be seeing very many cars come into your shop today with YF refrigerant, especially here in the United States. There is a reason for that. Yes, there a lot of cars on the road that are using this new refrigerant but these cars are so new that most of them are falling under warranty when something goes wrong. What we are seeing today, October 2017, is a lot of dealerships doing the YF repairs. If we wait a few more years, say 2019-2020 I predict that a lot of the aftermarket shops out there will begin to see the demand for YF repairs. It just takes time folks. Hopefully by then the cost would have gone down.
  • For those of you in the distribution industry or even those of you who like to buy cylinders in bulk you should know that 1234yf is labeled as a hazardous material. You will need to follow certain restrictions if you plan on storing a significant amount of YF at your facility. I won’t go too deep into it here but if you click this link you’ll be taken to Honeywell’s website with more information on the topic. It is best to read up on this topic and also to consult with your local fire department to ensure that you are in standard.

Servicing 1234yf

Let me start this off with saying that a 1234yf system is VERY similar to an R-134a system. If you are familiar with 134a repairs then you should be just fine with YF repairs as well. That being said there are a few points that I want to make to you before we move on to the next section:

  • Just like before in order to legally work on an HFO-1234YF unit you will need to be section 609 certified with the Environmental Protection Agency. If you are working at a shop then you are most likely already certified but if you are not then contact your service manager and see what steps need to be taken to get you certified. The certification is no different between R-134a and R-1234YF.
  • While a new certification is not necessary there is additional training available through SAE Spec J2845. This training will go over specific requirements and techniques when servicing either 1234yf or R-744 mobile air conditioning systems. The easiest way to acquire this training is to retake your 609 certification exam through MACS Worldwide. They have updated their test to include YF material.
  • The recovery and recycling procedures on 1234yf machines are basically identical to R-134a machines. The only differences that you will notice are:
    • When beginning to charge your system the recovery machine will do a vacuum hold test that will go for around two minutes. If the vacuum holds then we move onto the next step. If it doesn’t hold then check for leaks in your system.
    • Once we have passed the vacuum test the recovery unit will deliver a fifteen percent charge to the system. This is known as a ‘precharge,’ of the system.
    • While this is going on the tech will be prompted to start the blower motor on low, grab his leak detector, and then check the front evaporator inside the car for any leaks.
    • After giving it some time to check for leaks go back to your recovery unit and alert it if you found a leak or not. If your vehicle has a dual system then you will also need to check your rear evaporator for leaks as well.
    • If the leak detector did not trigger any leaks with the fifteen percent charge in the system then the recovery machine will go ahead and put the rest of the refrigerant back into the system.
    • After the system has been fully charged, disconnect your lines, and reseal the valves just like your normally would.
    • Some of you may be groaning at the extra steps when compared to R-134a. Well, with all things, there is a reason why these are performed. The fifteen percent precharge and leak detection step is key to catching a leak on your vehicle before it has been fully charged. If we catch the leak early while the charge is still low we can save loss of refrigerant, save your shop some cash on that refrigerant, save the customer money, and also prevent further damage to the environment. It’s a win win for all involved.

1234yf Necessary Tools

We have gone over the requirements to service 1234yf but now we need to cover what kind of tools that you will need. Like with most new technology comes new tools. Let’s take a look:

  • This first one is optional and truth be told a lot of you may not even need it as a good recovery unit should have gauges built in. But, if you want to have them as a backup or just like do things the old fashioned way then a good set of gauges will never let you down. We here at RefrigerantHQ recommend you buy the Robinair 41234 Manifold Gauge Set from our E-Bay Partner.
  • The next essential tool is a electronic refrigerant leak detector. For an HFO detector you want to make sure that it meets SAE spec J2913. Our pick here at RefrigerantHQ is INFICON’s Tek-Mate Refrigerant Leak Detector. We did a review on this detector just last month. Click here to view.AC1234-6 Robinair 1234YF Recover, Recycle, Recharge Machine
  • A refrigerant identifier is also a must. Now some guys prefer to have a stand alone identifier while others prefer to just use the one that is built into their recovery machine. It’s up to you. Just be aware that if you do go with the stand alone that it should meet SAE spec J2912. (I’d recommend you go with the recovery machine, skip the identifier, and save some money.)
  • Lastly, and most importantly you’re going to need to purchase a whole new recovery/recharge machine in order to service HFO-1234yf. Yes, I know. It’s an expensive switch but like it or not every shop in town and across the industry is going to have purchase one of these. You’ll either bite the bullet now or a few years from now. Here at RefrigeantHQ we recommend purchasing the Robinair AC1234-6 recovery machine. Like I mentioned before this unit comes with a refrigerant identifier built right in so you don’t have to worry about buying one of those as well. This unit was the first commercially available recovery machine to meet the new SAE standards J2843 for a 1234yf recovery machine. Click here to purchase on Amazon and click here to view Robinair’s official product page.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What applications will use 1234yf?
    • Mostly it will be automobiles that use 1234yf. Eventually we will see medium duty and even heavy duty vehicles come over to the YF side as well.
  • When will 1234yf come to the United States?
    • It’s already here! While the actual phase out R-134a doesn’t go into effect until the year 2020 many auto manufacturers have already taken the initiative and have begun using 1234yf on their newer model vehicles.
  • Why are we switching refrigerant again for automobiles?
    • I am sure most of you remember the days of R-12 refrigerant. R-12 was phased out back in 1992 due to the Ozone depleting Chlorine that it contained. The substitute that we used for R-12 was the new HFC called R-134a. It was later found that R-134a had a very high Global Warming Potential, or GWP, number. GWP is a measurement of Greenhouse Gases and their effect on Global Warming. A lower GWP alternative to R-134a had to be found and thus we have the new 1234yf.
  • How is 1234yf different from R-134a?
    • 134a is a Hydroflurocarbon refrigerant while 1234yf is a Hydrofluroolefin refrigerant. While these are two separate classes of refrigerants they are in fact very close to each other. The only main difference is that the HFO refrigerants have a double carbon bond whereas HFCs do not.
  • I read that 1234yf is flammable, should I be worried?
    • Truth be told, it’s not that big of a concern. Yes, it’s mildly flammable but so is the gasoline in your car. There have been countless tests from all different companies and organizations from all over the world. Throughout all of these tests there has been only one that found bad results from flammability. I will get further into this one bad test in the ‘history’ section in this post.
  • Do I need to do anything different to work on a YF unit if I am already 609 certified?
    • No, if you are 609 certified through the EPA already you are legally able to work on these new YF units. However, it may make sense to go through 609 training again and to take the test again as these tests have been updated to include newer YF questions.
  • Do I need to be certified to purchase 1234yf refrigerant?
    • Yes, as of January 1st, 2018 you will need to 609 certified with the EPA in order to purchase 1234yf refrigerant. The only exception is when purchasing containers that contain less then two pounds of refrigerant. This new rules applies to R-134a cylinders as well.
  • Will I see a difference between temperatures and pressures when working on a 1234yf unit?
    • There is a slight difference as you go up in temperature but for the most part 134a and 1234yf work on very similar temperatures and pressure.

Auto Manufacturers Using 1234YF

As I have said throughout this article there is a numerous list of automotive manufacturers that have already begun using the new 1234yf refrigerant. I may miss some here but I aim to show you some of the manufacturers that are currently using the new HFO refrigerant. The point here is to show you that this stuff isn’t going away and that in fact it is only becoming more popular. This data is from 2017 and a make list does not necessarily mean that all of their models are using 1234yf. Let’s take a look:

  • Buick
  • Cadillac
  • Chevrolet
  • Dodge
  • Ford
  • GMC
  • Honda
  • Jaguar
  • Jeep
  • Kia
  • Land Rover
  • Lincoln
  • Subaru
  • Toyota

These are all huge names in the car industry and while not all of their models are covered under YF I feel that it is only a matter of time before they all make the switch. (Keep in mind too that the EPA’s mandated deadline is 2020/2021 model year.)

History of 1234yf

So, when did all of this start? Well, to understand the history of 1234yf and the other HFO refrigerants we first have to go back in time to the 1980’s. Back then all automotive applications were using the CFC R-12 refrigerant for their air conditioning. R-12 was the original mainstream refrigerant that came from the 1930’s. Ever since then it and R-22 had gained and gained in popularity until they were practically found everywhere across the country and the world.

It was in the 1980’s that a team of scientists out of California realized that all of the Chlorine that was in CFC and HCFC refrigerants was causing damage to the Ozone layer. When vented or leaked the refrigerant would drift up and into the atmosphere. It is there where the Chlorine would do it’s damage. Eventually it got so bad that a thinning of the Ozone layer began to form over the Arctic. The scientists noticing this sounded the alarm and the world’s governments took action by creating the Montreal Protocol.

The Montreal Protocol is a treaty that was signed in the late 1980’s by more then one-hundred countries. It’s goal was to rid the world of using Ozone depleting substances like CFC and HCFC refrigerants. This treaty was enacted in countries all over the world. The first target was CFC refrigerants such as R-12. In 1992 R-12 was phased out of the automotive market in the United States and was replaced with the newer HFC refrigerant known as R-134a. R-134a had the benefit of not containing Chlorine so with its usage there would be no danger to the Ozone layer.

Lo and behold there was found to be another problem with R-134a. Instead of the Ozone layer issue we now had a new issue called Global Warming Potential. Global Warming Potential, or GWP, is a measurement of how much heat a greenhouse gas can trap in the atmosphere. The basic measurement on GWP is Carbon Dioxide which measures as one. This is our standard. Now, if we look at R-134a’s GWP number we can see a number of one-thousand four-hundred and thirty. Quite the difference here folks. We can now begin to see why a substitute for 134a was needed as well.

Enter HFO-1234YF

The problem was discovered and companies along with governments began to look for an alternative solution to R-134a and to other HFC refrigerants that were currently on the market as early as 2001. That’s less then ten years after the switch from R-12! While there were a plethora of ideas presented such as Hydrocarbons, R-744, or other natural refrigerants there were two companies that were doing the research, development, and work on creating and perfecting a new refrigerant known as HFO-1234yf. These companies were Honeywell and DuPont/Chemours.

In 2006 the European Union came out with a directive known as 2006/40/EC. This directive’s goal was to reduce the emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases from mobile air conditioning systems. This would be a gradual phase out across the European Union. The end goal was to have automobiles using refrigerants that had a Global Warming Potential, or GWP, number of one-hundred and fifty or less. The first major date of the phase out was 2008, then 2011, and then finally on January 1st 2017 any new vehicle using a refrigerant with a GWP higher then one-hundred and fifty would be banned from the European Union. The problem here was that there wasn’t a viable alternative to HFC refrigerants at the time this directive was made. I’m sure you’ve heard of the expression: Necessity is the mother of invention.

This timeline put even more pressure on Honeywell and Chemours. In only a few short years later in 2008 they presented HFO-1234yf to the Society of Automotive Engineers Cooperative Research Program. (SAE CRP1234) The society concluded that 1234yf offered superior environmental performance and that 1234yf was safe to use in automotive applications. After this test came a whole host of other tests from companies, governments, and other organizations all over the globe. Everyone wanted to make sure that this new refrigerant was not only good for the environment but also safe. Remember now folks that the new YF refrigerant went up a flammability level to 2L. Was it safe to use? Most everyone said that yes, it was… but there was one company that disagreed.

Daimler

There was one major bump in the road of HFO-1234yf to becoming the dominant automotive refrigerant. In 2012 Daimler began their own internal testing with 1234YF on some of their vehicles. They claimed that in some of their tests that when the refrigerant tank ruptured during an accident that the refrigerant ignited and caused a fire to occur. The video can be seen below. In the video there is a test with 1234yf leaking and then there is a test with R-134a leaking. The video speaks for itself.

There were many disputes from numerous companies and organizations from all over the world to this test and claim from Daimler that the new refrigerant was unsafe for use. For a time it seemed like German Automakers were going to fight HFOs tooth and nail. They had their hearts set on R-744 CO2.  Over the years though there have been numerous court battles and fines issued by the European Union but still Germany persisted against 1234yf.

Eventually a lot of these companies lost the war of attrition and have folded into the 1234YF HFO craze and from the pressure from the European Union. There is one company, Daimler, that is pursuing their own route into the future by developing CO2 R-744 automobile air conditioning systems. Eventually, in 2015 Daimler did agree to use 1234yf in their new vehicles but this was only done to appeal the European Union. In the background, and now in 2017, very publicly Daimler has been developing and testing R-744 or Carbon Dioxide refrigerant modeled cars. It will definitely be interesting to see how this new technology develops over the years.

The EU and the USA

In 2017 the final law went into effect across the European Union and 1234YF was found in every new car that was manufactured or imported into the EU. The only exception that I know of is Daimler and their CO2 automobiles. While the European Union market was changing there was also change going on in the United States.

It seems that the EU is always a precursor for what happens here in the states. In 2015 the Environmental Protection Agency announced a new rule under their SNAP program called rule 20. This new rule dictated the eventual phase out of HFC refrigerants across the United States. While there are many HFC refrigerants in this ruling I will stick with R-134a for now. The basis of the rule was that by the year 2020, or model year 2021, all new manufactured or imported vehicles would not be able to use R-134a. There is room for a few exclusions here and there but these can only push the date back to 2025. Another thing to note here is that they do not state medium duty or heavy duty vehicle markets. So, that means your trucks, haulers, and other large equipment are not included in this ruling as of yet.

By combining the EU’s policy on R-134a and now the United States’ public policy everyone knew that the most logical choice for an alternative was HFO-1234yf. Sure, there were companies like Daimler researching R-744 but this was not a viable alternative at this point in time. Production had to be increased on YF as soon as possible. Earlier this year, 2017, the Chemours company broke ground on a new 1234YF manufacturing plant in Corpus Christi, Texas. This new facility is expected to triple the company’s output of 1234yf. Chemours was just following suit though as the Honeywell corporation actually opened up their new three-hundred million dollar facility in Geismar, Louisiana earlier this year.

These two companies know whats coming. There is a wave of demand that is going to hit and hit hard. The question you have to ask yourself folks is are you ready? Are your employees ready? Is your shop ready? If not today then tomorrow you may have a YF unit roll in. Are you going to know what to do? Are you going to be prepared?

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

 

Important Links

 

Hydrofluroolefin refrigerants, or HFOs, are the latest and greatest to come out to the refrigeration world. HFOs are known as the fourth generation of refrigerants. Their predecessors were the refrigerant classes CFCs, HCFCs, and HFCs. HFOs are widely considered to be the refrigerant of the future.

Each time a new class of refrigerants was introduced it was found out, years later, that the refrigerant in that class damages the environment. The first couple of classes known as CFCs and HCFCs were found to be damaging the Ozone layer due to the Chlorine that they contained. The third generation of refrigerants known as HFCs came around in the 1990’s as an alternative to older classes. But, over time it was found that HFCs had a very high and very damaging Global Warming Potential. (GWP)

The plan now is to phase out HFCs across the world and replace them with either Hydrocarbons or with the new HFO refrigerants designed and created in laboratories owned by Honeywell and Chemours. Much like HFCs HFO refrigerants are comprised of Hydrogen, Fluorine, and Carbon. Chemically, the only difference here between HFCs and HFOs is that HFOs are unsaturated meaning that they have at least one double bond.

The goal of the HFOs are to provide an alternative refrigerant that is safe, non Ozone depleting, and with a relatively low Global Warming Potential number.

HFO Refrigerants

  • R-1234YF or Tetrafluropropene. Also known under the Chemours’ Opteon and Honeywell’s Solstice brand names. 1234YF was the first HFO refrigerant developed by the two companies. It’s intended use was for automotive applications and over the years has begun to see widespread usage across the European Union and here in the United States as well. Chances are if you are purchasing a new vehicle it is coming with HFO-1234YF.
  • R-1234ze or Tetrafluropropene. Also known under the Chemours’ Opteon and Honeywell’s Solstice brand names. R-1234ze is a refrigerant designed to be an alternative to the stationary chillers or commercial air conditioning that you would see in supermarkets or commercial buildings.
  • R-1233zd. Also known under the Chemours’ Opteon and Honeywell’s Solstice brand names. It is designed to be a replacement for R-123. The targeted application here are centrifugal chillers. It has a VERY low GWP of one.
  • R-513A or Opteon XP10. A Chemours Opteon replacement for R-134a on stationary devices.
  • R-449A or Opteon XP40. A Chemours Opteon replacement for R-404A, R-507, and R-22 with a dramatic reduction in GWP and twelve percent improved energy efficiency.
  • R-452A or Opteon XP44. A Chemours Opteon replacement for R-404 and R-507 mainly for systems requiring low discharge temperatures such as refrigerated trucks or rail cars.
  • R-452B or Opteon XL55. A Chemours Opteon replacement for R-410A with a sixty-seven percent GWP reduction, high efficiency, and minimal changes required when retrofitting.
  • R-454B or Opteon XL41. A Chemours Opteon replacement for R-410A. This one very well may be the ‘410A killer.’
  • R-514A or Opteon XP30. A Chemours Opteon replacement for R-123 with lower GWP, non-flammable, and comes close to performance levels of R-123.
  • R-450A or Solstice N13. A Honeywell Solstice replacement for R-404A. The targeted application here is supermarket chillers or freezers. It’s GWP is sixty-eight percent lower than R-404A and requires fifteen percent less energy to run.
  • R-448A or Solstice N40. A Honeywell Solstice replacement for R-134a. The targeted application here are your heat pumps, air cooled and water cooled chillers, vending machines as well as other small stationary units.

I wanted to make a point to note that I wrote this above section in October of 2017. At the time I wrote this these were all of the HFO refrigerants that I could find. Now, as time moves on there may very well be additional refrigerants added to this list. In fact, I would be very surprised if there weren’t more added just next year. Honeywell and Chemours are working around the clock creating, discovering, and inventing all new HFO refrigerants. I will do my best to keep this list up to date but if you know of some that I missed please do not hesitate to reach out to me by clicking this link.

More Information on HFOs

The History

Ok, so above we covered the very basics of what HFOs are and the types of HFOs that are on the market today. Now we can begin to dig into the actual history of HFOs, what kind of brands there are out today, and what the future looks like for them.

Looking at things from a chemistry perspective HFOs are nothing new. Just like their HFC counterparts HFOs contain Hydrogen, Fluorine, and Carbon. The one real difference between these two refrigerants is that HFOs are unsaturated. In other words they have at least one double bond of carbon. These double bonded molecules are known as Olefins or Alkenes. This is where the name Hydrofluroolefins comes from. While HFOs may have been around for a while there was never a demand for them. HFCs were the favored refrigerant when CFCs and HCFCs went away in the 1990’s. It was in the early 2000’s that things began to change.

In 2006 the European Union came out with a directive known as 2006/40/EC. This directive’s goal was to reduce the emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases from mobile air conditioning systems. This would be a gradual phase out across the European Union. The end goal was to have automobiles using refrigerants that had a Global Warming Potential, or GWP, number of one-hundred and fifty or less. At the time of this directive most auto manufacturers were using the HFC R-134a. 134a has a GWP number of one-thousand four-hundred and thirty. Due to 134a’s high GWP number the EU’s directive would slowly phase out and ban R-134a. The first major date was 2008, then 2011, and then finally on January 1st 2017 any new vehicle using a refrigerant with a GWP higher then one-hundred and fifty would be banned from the European Union. The problem here was that there wasn’t a viable alternative to HFC refrigerants at the time this directive was made. I’m sure you’ve heard of the expression: Necessity is the mother of invention.

Something had to be done here. Someone had to step up and come up with a solid, stable, and safe refrigerant alternative to the widely used HFC refrigerants. It was the two major refrigerant companies known as Honeywell and DuPont/Chemours that came up to the plate and began researching and producing the first mainstream alternative HFO refrigerant.

A few years later in 2008 Honeywell and DuPont presented the new HFO alternative refrigerant known as 1234YF. This first refrigerant was the first of the new HFO classification line of refrigerants. The presentation was in front of the German Association of the Automotive Industry. (Think Daimler, Volkswagen, and BMW.) The new 1234YF had a GWP number of four. Yes, that’s right four. That is a HUGE improvement when compared to the large number that R-134a came with. 1234Yf was sure to please the European Union.

Not long after the presentation multiple companies and organizations began to endorse the new 1234YF refrigerant. At the time there was an uncertainity in the air of rather the auto manufacturers would go to R-744 (Carbon Dioxide) or to another alternative refrigerant like HFOs. Once the endorsements started coming on for 1234YF the whisperings of CO2 died and nearly everyone jumped on board with the new HFO.

There was one major bump in this road which I will dive into further in our safety section of HFOs but I wanted to mention it here shortly. In 2012 Daimler began their own internal testing with 1234YF on some of their vehicles. They claimed that in some of their tests that when the refrigerant tank ruptured during an accident that the refrigerant ignited and caused an explosion to occur. There were many disputes from numerous companies and organizations from all over the world to this claim. For a time it seemed like German Automakers were going to fight HFOs tooth and nail. They had their hearts set on R-744 CO2.  Over the years there have been numerous court battles and fines issued by the European Union. A lot of these companies have folded into the 1234YF HFO craze but there is one company, Daimler, that is pursuing their own route into the future by developing CO2 R-744 automobile air conditioning systems. In 2017 the final law went into effect across the European Union and 1234YF was found in every new car that was manufactured or imported into the EU. The only exception that I know of is Daimler and their CO2 automobiles.

It seems that with America we always lag behind the environmental standards of the EU. I remember back when I was in the trucking industry a decade ago the government mandated that all new diesel vehicles come with a Diesel Particular Filter and come with Diesel Exhaust Fluid. While this was quite a change here in the States it was old news in Europe. They had been doing this for years. I bring this up because the same thing is happening here with HFCs and HFOs.

The directive in 2006 from the European Union was the catalyst that got the HFO ball rolling. Once that started everyone and every country wanted to jump on board do what they can to phase out HFC refrigerants and replace them with more friendly lower Global Warming refrigerants. These could be Hydrocarbons or CO2 like we discussed before or they could be HFOs.

In the summer of 2015 the Obama Administration’s EPA announced a new rule to their SNAP program. This new rule called RULE 20 was aimed at phasing out HFC refrigerants across the United States. Shortly thereafter in 2016 nations gathered around the world and signed the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. This amendment promised to phase out HFC refrigerants across the globe and replace them with more environmentally friendly alternatives such as HFOs.

While the demand for HFOs has already hit the European Union it has still to come in full force to the United States, but everyone knows that it is coming. DuPont/Chemours and Honeywell know this fact all too well. The Chemours Company is building the largest HFO manufacturing plant in the world right here in the United States in Corpus Christi, Texas to be exact. Honeywell is doing something very similar and has built and launched a new HFO plant in Geismar, Louisiana.

Safety Concerns

Let me get this out of the way first and foremost. There is no best refrigerant. Every refrigerant on the market today has Pros and Cons. If we go way back in the day of Ammonia based refrigerant we had the con of toxic chemicals leaking into your home if a leak occurred. HFCs were a relatively stable, safe, and non-flammable refrigerant but as I have covered up above they had the high Global Warming Potential.

The new HFO refrigerants have the big pro that they have a significantly lower Global Warming number but the sacrifice that we have to make for achieving this is the risk of flammability.

Refrigerants have three flammability classifications. The first known as class 1 indicates refrigerants that do not show flame propagation when tested in air at seventy degrees Fahrenheit. Class 2 indicates refrigerants that have a lower flammability limit. Finally, class 3 indicates refrigerants that are highly flammable. An example of a class 3 flammability refrigerant would be R-290 also known as Propane. (Think Hank Hill!)

The HFC refrigerant R-134a has a flammability rating of 1, just like most other HFC refrigerants on the market today. The newer HFO-1234YF has a flammability rating of 2. While it may not seem like a large difference I should point out again that there are only three levels. We’re going up an entire level so that we can reduce Global Warming Potential on our refrigerants. Now, don’t get me wrong here. HFOs just like other refrigerants in the market are safe in the right hands. If you know what you are doing then you’ll be just fine.

There is a risk that comes with replacing R-134a with an HFO. Remember now that 134a and 1234YF applications are mobile, after all they are automobiles. With a mobile application there is a chance of collision and with a chance of collision there is a chance of one of the refrigerant lines rupturing and leaking refrigerant across the rest of the car’s hot engine. No what would happen if that refrigerant that was spewing all over your hot engine was flammable?

This precise scenario is what the German automaker Daimler discovered in 2012. Daimler found that in a severe head on collision the refrigerant line can break apart and spray the 1234YF onto the exhaust system causing a fire. They even recorded a video showing a Mercedes-Benz hatchback catching fire under the hood after 1234YF refrigerant leaked onto the exhaust. The test can be seen in the below video. While the captions in German you don’t need them to understand what is happening here. The moment that refrigerant escapes it ignites nearly instantly. Terrifying stuff.

This test from Daimler shook the industry across the globe. There had been endless tests done on 1234YF before this by Honeywell, Chemours, and many other companies and they all came back safe. After this Daimler test hundreds of additional tests were conducted by other companies and again they all came back as safe.

Now, I can’t tell you who is in the right here. No one really knows. I will say that in 2015 Daimler did come around and state that they would publicly use 1234YF in their newer vehicles. I feel that this is just a cover though while Daimler develops and perfects their CO2 automobile technology. Once it is ready it will be rolled out for all of their makes and models and 1234YF will be left behind.

The question on everyone’s mind is if HFOs are safe. As I said before there have been numerous studies all saying yes. On top of that though I will also state that as I write this there are now thirty-five million 1234YF vehicles on the road today and I have not yet heard of a fire or explosion caused by them. I can guarantee that at least a few of these cars have had head on collisions but there has not been an incident yet. I like those odds.

Brands

Alright folks so we’ve gone into what HFOs are, their history, their future, and even the potential safety hazards. Now let’s take a look at the two brand names of HFO refrigerants that are on the market today. As I write this article in October of 2017 there are two main brand names and they both come from the two largest refrigerant manufacturers in the world: DuPont/Chemours and Honeywell.

Honeywell’s new brand name for HFO refrigerants is known as Solstice. DuPont, now split off into Chemours, brand name is known as Opteon. When a new refrigerant is released under these brand names it is released under a different name then what you may be used too. An example of this if we look at R-513A. To the industry it is known as R-513A but to Chemours it is known as Opteon XP10. Yes, I know it’s confusing but I can assure you that they are the same exact thing. Another example is the 1234YF refrigerant. This refrigerant from Honeywell is referred as Solstice YF. If you were to buy this from Chemours it would be known as Opteon YF. It’s the same thing just different labeling.

One additional point that I want to make on the HFO brand names is that at this point in time there are only two. This has me concerned due to the severe lack of competition. If you look at HFC refrigerants it seems like everyone and their brother makes them and that’s not even counting the imported Chinese product. All of this product on the market allows prices to stay relatively low and prevents companies from gouging consumers and contractors. I feel that it is going to be a shock to a lot of shops, dealerships, and even consumers when they need to recharge their HFO automobile and they find out that it’s seventy-two dollars a pound at a wholesale cost. If your car takes two pounds of refrigerant you’re looking at one-hundred and fifty dollars to recharge and that’s before the shop’s markup. Quite the difference when comparing it to a five dollar can of R-134a. That’s not even mentioning all of the new equipment that will have to be bought to service 1234YF vehicles.

Conclusion

It may take another decade, maybe even two, but I can assure you ladies and gentlemen that HFCs are dying. They will be entirely gone before you know it and they will be replaced by the newer and better HFO refrigerants.  Are you ready?

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

As I am sure that all of you know when it comes to manufacturing refrigerant there are only a few players left in town. Sure there are some smaller companies scattered here and there across the country but for the most part when you are buying refrigerant it is coming from one of two companies: Honeywell or Chemours. (Formerly DuPont.) These two companies are household names because of their innovations and inventions but also because of their size. Honeywell’s revenue last year was thirty-nine billion dollars. Chemour’s net revenue last year was just shy of six billion dollars. (Don’t let that six billion number fool you though, Chemours was the DuPont company just a few years ago and we all know how big they are.)

There are other medium sized companies out there today that are still manufacturing refrigerants across the country and outside of the states. Now, I am not going to count the Chinese guys as half that stuff is counterfeit or not mixed correctly. Instead I am going to highlight two companies that you may have already heard of: MexiChem and Arkema. At this point in the game they are the only major competition against the two giants.

Mexichem and Arkema have been fighting the conglomerates Honeywell and Chemours tooth and nail on a variety of issues. I won’t get into everything but I will point out two major suits. They were the ones who started the anti-dumping law-suits against R-134a a few years ago. They were also the ones who filed suit against Honeywell and Chemours claiming that they were exhibiting anti-competitive behavior on their 1234YF product.

The Patent

We all knew that the timeline for HFC refrigerants was short lived due to their Global Warming Potential. We all knew that alternative refrigerants were being developed even before R-410A was being rolled out across the country. What I did not know until writing this article was that Honeywell patented their new HFO refrigerant that they developed in co-operation with DuPont/Chemours. Yes, that’s right. They patented HFO-1234YF and their other classes of HFO refrigerants. The patent details can be ready by clicking here.

What does that mean? Well folks, I am by no means an expert here when it comes to patent law but from what I can gather from the sources that I have read and gathered (Source list at bottom of the article.) is that only Honeywell or Chemours can manufacture HFO-1234YF. So, this new refrigerant that will be used all across the European Union next year and potentially throughout the United States in 2021 will be held in the hands of only two companies: Honeywell and Chemours. Fast forward five or ten years and it will be at the point that whenever an automobile develops a leak and needs more refrigerant it will be bought from either Chemours or Honeywell. Now that just doesn’t seem right now does it?

For those of you who haven’t bought 1234YF yet you will be in for a shock when you see the price. Right now it’s running around seven-hundred dollars for a ten pound cylinder. Heck, you can get a thirty-pound cylinder of R-22 for less. Maybe even a rusted cylinder of R-12. It makes you wonder. Is the cost this high due to the innovation and the hours spent in the lab creating this new class of refrigerant or is it an effort to keep profits up in between these two companies?

To top it all off Honeywell and Chemours are building each their own separate HFO-1234YF plants in the southern United States. Honeywell actually just opened their three-hundred million dollar plant in Geismar, Louisana. One state over in Texas the Chemours company broke ground in February of this year on their two-hundred and thirty million dollar plant. The Chemours facility is expected to go live at the end of 2018, although this may be delayed due to the hurricane Texas just went through. At least they are keeping their plants here in the States.

Arkema

While Mexichem was battling it out in the courts trying to get anti-dumping duties placed on R-134a Chinese imports Arkema was fighting Honeywell and Chemours on their patent and manufacturing rights of 1234YF. They originally filed suit with the European Commission stating that Honeywell has unfairly limited supplies and manufacturing of the refrigerant.

There isn’t a lot of news on this but this snippet I found is from October of 2014. I wanted to quote it to provide you with some context, “The European Commission announced Tuesday that it believes Honeywell International Inc. and E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co. may have violated antitrust rules by allegedly limiting the production and development of a new environmentally friendly refrigerant used in car air-conditioning systems.” – Source.

Now I am not sure what happened to this initial feeling but I can tell you that nothing came of this. There was never an official ruling and the investigation is still ongoing but I believe it has stalled and nothing will come from it.

In June of this year Arkema filed another suit with the European Commission over Honeywell not allowing them to produce and manufacture 1234YF refrigerant. Arkema accused Honeywell of dominating the HFO-1234yf market and preventing fair competition. Since this suit was just filed there has been little news on the outcome or even rumors on what will happen.

Conclusion

Honeywell has invested nearly one-billion dollars into research, planning, constructing, and manufacturing 1234YF. Their plan, along with Chemours, is to dominate the market of automobile refrigerant in the European Union and soon in the United States. It seems that governments in the European Union and even here in the US have turned a blind eye towards this ever growing monopoly between these two companies. They are not concerned as the end game here is to stop Global Warming and to reduce the Global Warming Potential of automobile refrigerants. If it comes at the cost of having an even bigger conglomerate then so be it as long as Global Warming is slowed down. Take that as you will.

Like it or not 1234YF is the future for automobile refrigerants across the world. It has already been deemed so. The question is will there be enough competition to keep prices low or will auto shops be paying an arm and a leg just to get a few pounds of 1234? I can’t even imagine what the markup would be to the customer!

Remember folks, all Arkema wants to do is produce the refrigerant themselves but they cannot due to the constraints of the patent and Honeywell’s licensing. It’s that simple. Will the EU rule in favor? We will see. We will see.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson
RefrigerantHQ

 

Sources