SAE International says Honeywell’s new coolant is safe to use

Article by Anita Panait, on December 20, 2012

An innovative air-conditioning refrigerant, the HFO-1234yf, is safe to use, according to preliminary results released by SAE International, an automotive engineering association. The HFO-1234yf is developed by Honeywell International Inc. and DuPont Co. and is the only coolant that complies with new European Union climate guidelines.

However, it has been the focus of a recent dispute between Honeywell and German carmaker Daimler AG. According to Daimler, a field test conducted by its engineers found out that a mixture of HFO-1234yf and air-conditioning compressor oil released under the hood of a car could cause fire on the hot surface of an engine and deadly gas.

Daimler’s test made the auto industry and the EU commission SAE International to conduct a study to find out whether a mistake was committed in the years of tests that showed the coolant was perfectly safe.

Honeywell and DuPont, both of which made heavy investments in the new coolant, have mounted a public defense, with the former issuing a statement on Friday. Initial results of tests conducted by 13 major carmakers, compiled and assessed by the SAE, formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers, were released Friday.

Daimler was one of the 13 carmakers involved in the testing of the new refrigerant. According to the SAE International, the preliminary results show there is no reason to change its previous posture that HFO-1234yf is safe to use in automobiles. The SAE is expected to issue its completed risk assessment in mid-February 2013 and will publish the new findings by the end of the second quarter of the same year.

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