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  1. #1
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    Oct 2004
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    HVAC pros...why doesn't auto a/c use a natural refrigerant?

    There wasn't an auto a/c forum so this seemed the best choice.

    I read an article the other week that really got my blood boiling. If I locate it again I'll post it, but the summary was that most of Europe is looking to phase out R-134a, not because it harms the ozone (which it doesn't) but now because they claim it still carries "global warming potential". In other words, I read this as the patent is about to expire, they need some new wonder refrigerant that is even more environmentally friendly so the manufacturers, DuPont I guess, can make some more money. This is the same stuff we went through with R-12. If Europe embraces this, it won't be long before the U.S. has to be politically correct too and we're in the same boat.

    So my question is why can't, say, ammonia or carbon dioxide be used for auto a/c cooling? I admit I don't really know much about the two refrigerants except that ammonia attacks copper and I think carbon dioxide has to operate at much higher pressure than most commercial refrigerants.

    I understand why some people don't want to switch over to either of those two...it's all about the money....but are there practical/technical reasons why either of those two could not work for auto a/c?

  2. #2
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    There is a strong push in Europe right now for automotive AC to use CO2 refrigerant. At least 2 companies have developed transcritical cycle automotive AC/heat pump systems that use CO2, and one of them claims to be ready to go with the technology right now.
    The auto manufacturers want to use HFO refrigerants though.
    If more government is the answer, then it's a really stupid question.

  3. #3
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    I wish they'd bring back R-764. (best refrigerant ever)

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by mark beiser View Post
    The auto manufacturers want to use HFO refrigerants though.
    HFO-1234yf looks to be a winner here.
    If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. Abraham Maslow

  5. #5
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    Co2 IS the global warming gas that environmentalists are trying to reduce from our atmosphere the most. It will soon be illegal too. Whatever you do, don't let them catch you breathing, or drinking some vintage soft drink that you got on the black market.

  6. #6
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    heh

    Now that the environmental movement has condemned inert, environmentally friendly (since zero ODP refrigerants have been developed), safe refrigerants, the industry has started looking at flammable hydrocarbons and toxic ammonia/sulfur dioxide again - the very substances CFCs/HFCs/HCFCs were developed to replace!

    They won't be happy until refrigeration/AC gets banned and people succumb to food poisoning.
    General public's attitude towards our energy predicament: "I reject the reality of finite resource depletion and substitute it with my own; energy is infinite, we just need an alternative storage medium to run the cars on. The economy can grow indefinitely - we just need to "green" everything! Technology is energy! Peak what?"

  7. #7
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    CO2 refrigeration systems operate at a VERY high pressure. The hoses and seals required to contain it are very expensive. Even the smallest leak will result in a quick loss of all the refrigerant. CO2 will most likely be the next refrigerant for automobile use


    ammonia is not used because it is dangerous if inhaled. Since the A/C condenser is right behind the bumper, it is very likely that the refrigerant will be vented in a crash. For this reason ammonia will never be used in auto A/C

  8. #8
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    I am on this ammonia 50 ton unit project. I asked why the corporate engineers decided on nh3. They said DuPont's CFC's were a pain in the the butt. To much goverment paper work.
    Remember DuPont has a trade name on a lot of stuff. Nylon, Dacron, Teflon, Akron, Rayon and those balloons I forget. And last but not least Freon. All kinds of Freon.

    I work in the Alathon division. My company bought the trade name and the polymers part of it.

    And yes the patent has an expiration date.

    Yep, It time for some new blood.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by craig1 View Post
    CO2 refrigeration systems operate at a VERY high pressure. The hoses and seals required to contain it are very expensive. Even the smallest leak will result in a quick loss of all the refrigerant. CO2 will most likely be the next refrigerant for automobile use


    ammonia is not used because it is dangerous if inhaled. Since the A/C condenser is right behind the bumper, it is very likely that the refrigerant will be vented in a crash. For this reason ammonia will never be used in auto A/C
    No problem. That is why there are engineers. I can drive a small train. Its about time for a chat with Andy.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by craig1 View Post


    ammonia is not used because it is dangerous if inhaled
    the self alarming refrigerant
    If Guns Kill People, Do Pencils Misspell Words?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=An2a1...eature=related

    Before we work on artificial intelligence why don't we do something about natural stupidity?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Thanks for the feedback everyone.

    Quote Originally Posted by craig1 View Post
    CO2 refrigeration systems operate at a VERY high pressure. The hoses and seals required to contain it are very expensive. Even the smallest leak will result in a quick loss of all the refrigerant. CO2 will most likely be the next refrigerant for automobile use


    ammonia is not used because it is dangerous if inhaled. Since the A/C condenser is right behind the bumper, it is very likely that the refrigerant will be vented in a crash. For this reason ammonia will never be used in auto A/C
    As for carbon dioxide, I would not imagine the high pressure should be any problem. Brake lines have to withstand similar pressures but you don't see a lot of them springing a leak these days.

    I know that ammonia can be toxic at certain stages, but how much would actually be considered toxic? For example, I think these days the average amount of 134a in an auto a/c is around 10-12 oz?? Maybe a little more? How much ammonia would be required for auto a/c?

    On top of that, why is ammonia considered taboo for auto a/c? Because it's toxic? If that's the case, why is ammonia used for refrigerators powered by natural gas or propane? I understand the aspect of getting in a crash...but is there any other factor in ruling it out?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ammoniadog View Post
    Co2 IS the global warming gas that environmentalists are trying to reduce from our atmosphere the most.
    The amusing thing about the automotive AC debate in Europe it is that one of the primary arguments the environmentalists make for CO2 refrigerant is that it is an "environmentally neutral" natural and safe refrigerant.

    Like, hey wait, haven't you guys been telling us that CO2 is a dangerous atmospheric pollutant that we have to control at all costs, even if it cripples our economies and standard of living?
    If more government is the answer, then it's a really stupid question.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by txnoob View Post
    Thanks for the feedback everyone.


    I know that ammonia can be toxic at certain stages, but how much would actually be considered toxic? For example, I think these days the average amount of 134a in an auto a/c is around 10-12 oz?? Maybe a little more? How much ammonia would be required for auto a/c?

    On top of that, why is ammonia considered taboo for auto a/c? Because it's toxic? If that's the case, why is ammonia used for refrigerators powered by natural gas or propane? I understand the aspect of getting in a crash...but is there any other factor in ruling it out?
    In a crash I'd be more worried about 20 gallons of gasoline then 10-12 oz of ammonia.

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