New ozone legislation to accelerate major changes to car air-conditioning


Changes to Ozone Protection Legislation to Accelerate Major Changes to Automotive Air-Conditioning Systems

Business urged to get ready for new industry standard auto-AC refrigerants

  • Industry welcomes phase-down of high global warming potential (GWP) HFC refrigerants

  • Government wants to see rapid technology changes in the automotive sector

  • R1234yf the first automotive AC refrigerant to officially begin replacing high-GWP R134a

  • Cars using R1234yf already on Australian roads, HFC phase-down will accelerate uptake

  • Workshops need to be ready with refrigerant, equipment and training

  • A second refrigerant, R744 (carbon dioxide), will follow in high-end German luxury cars

  • Industry-led Future:Gas seminar series to help prepare business for these changes

  • Seminar tickets just $10 for mid-week evening events around Australia and New Zealand

VASA and Refrigerants Australia have welcomed the Government’s announcement that it will legislate a phase-down of high global warming potential (GWP) HFC refrigerants under revisions to ozone protection legislation.

The Government has flagged the automotive air-conditioning industry as one sector where it would like to see rapid technology change. It will consider regulating to ensure the existing industry standard refrigerant, R134a, is phased out of use in new vehicles over the next few years.

As is taking place in the European Union and United States, the HFC phase-down will accelerate, and eventually mandate, the switch to low-GWP refrigerants in the air-conditioning systems of new vehicles. In fact, a growing number of vehicles imported to Australia from markets where a phase-down is in place are already on Australian roads and the end of local car manufacturing in 2017 will add momentum to the uptake.

Dr Greg Picker, Executive Director of Refrigerants Australia said, “The refrigeration and air conditioning industry actively supports a phase down of the global warming potential of HFC refrigerants over the next two decades: this both guarantees improved environmental outcomes while also giving industry long-term certainty.”

VASA President, Ian Stangroome, commented that, “There are new technologies being rolled out for automotive air-conditioning, including R1234yf and CO2, that meet these requirements. New procedures, however, will need to be developed by the industry to maintain safety, ensure environmental performance, and guarantee that car owners are well looked after.”

With these changes in mind, VASA, Refrigerants Australia, Refrigerant Reclaim Australia and the Australian Refrigeration Council have prepared a seminar series about these technologies called Future:Gas.

These seminars will be rolled out across Australia and New Zealand in July and August this year, designed to educate people working in and around the business of selling, servicing and repairing automotive air-conditioners on how they need to prepare for the arrival of new refrigerants in terms of equipment, training, working practices, occupational health and safety and understanding new standards.

If you want to ensure you and your staff understand the changes that are coming their way very fast,” observed Ian Stangroome, “you will want to get along to these informative seminar sessions.”

About Future:Gas

VASA, the peak body for the automotive air conditioning industry in Australasia, along with Refrigerants Australia, Refrigerant Reclaim Australia and licensing body the Australian Refrigeration Council, identified a need for a seminar roadshow designed to inform and educate thousands of technicians and businesses about the new refrigerants and technologies they will soon be encountering.

This industry-led initiative is called Future:Gas and will deliver seminars about these new technologies and the reasons they came about at locations around Australia and New Zealand in July and August this year.

Conveniently timed on mid-week evenings with entry priced at just $10, Future:Gas seminars are designed to be as accessible as possible to those working in automotive air-conditioning.

Attendees to Future:Gas seminars will be among the first in Australasia to receive a comprehensive overview of the new-generation automotive industry-standard refrigerants in one knowledge-enhancing evening. Created by industry, for industry, the future-gas initiative is thought to be the first of its kind in the world.

Each Future:Gas seminar will feature presentations from top industry experts, who will explain the reason for the changes, the technical background of the new refrigerants, new safe working practices and standards relating to the quality and design of both components and service equipment.

Much of the automotive sector lacks awareness or is confused by conflicting messages or misinformation about the new automotive air-conditioning refrigerants R1234yf and R744, so there is a pressing need for this campaign of seminars, which will be made up of presentations from highly credible sources.

Among the target audience are main dealer workshops, the panel repair industry and aftermarket repairers.

Tickets are available from through a secure online booking system. Spaces are limited, so early booking is advised.

The automotive refrigerant back-story

Since the ozone layer damaging CFC refrigerant R12 was phased out in the mid-1990s, the only refrigerant used by vehicle manufacturers has been R134a.

With climate change now on the agenda, vehicle air conditioning systems using R134a are becoming a thing of the past because R134a is around 1300 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas if released to the atmosphere.

For comparison, R12 is 10,900 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, in addition to destroying stratospheric ozone.

Both R1234yf and R744 are ozone-friendly and have global warming potential of below or equal to carbon dioxide.

Ten automotive refrigerant facts

  1. Much of the global automotive industry has adopted R1234yf as the standard refrigerant in new cars, primarily due to tightening overseas legislation over the global warming effect of refrigerants released into the atmosphere.

  2. Unlike the switch from R12 to R134a there will be no need to change existing air conditioning systems over to R1234yf, because R134a will continue to be available for servicing older equipment.

  3. Due to similar thermal properties between R134a and R1234yf, faults with systems using the new refrigerant can be diagnosed using the same methods as R134a.

  4. R1234yf carries an ASHRAE rating of A2L (mildly flammable) and is subject to Dangerous Goods class 2.1 handling and transportation requirements.

  5. However R1234yf is not easily ignited and struggles to sustain and propagate a flame compared with A3 (highly flammable) rated refrigerants available to the aftermarket but never used or approved by OEMs.

  6. To ensure safety, new SAE standards apply to the quality of system components and the equipment used to service R1234yf systems. Some equipment is rated as compatible with both R134a and R1234yf and some equipment is suitable only for R1234yf.

  7. Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler and Volkswagen Group have developed systems using a carbon dioxide as a refrigerant (named R744) that will initially be used for high-end vehicles.

  8. R744 requires operating pressures up to ten times higher than R134a or R1234yf and therefore additional considerations around safety and working practices.

  9. Like R1234yf, working with R744 will require new service equipment meeting the relevant SAE standards, as well as technical training about the major differences.

  10. Although it has been used for some time in stationary equipment, getting R744 systems to work for automotive applications has been a significant engineering challenge, with unique components and system layouts required for this refrigerant.


Ian Stangroome

President, VASA

0412 119 544

Dr Greg Picker

Executive Director, Refrigerants Australia

0403 741 715


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