The automotive industry has developed new technologies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from car and truck air conditioning systems, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA.
New electronic leak detectors and new recycling machines, like the ones now mandated in parts of Canada, will help reduce emissions during automotive air conditioner repairs.
“EPA and its mobile air conditioning partners are driving toward cleaner air, a healthier economy, and a more secure energy future,” said Bill Wehrum, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation.
“Car owners can make a difference by insisting on professional service of automobile air conditioners using the best available equipment.”
Now commercially available, the new leak detector technology will help service professionals to identify and repair very small leaks in vehicle air conditioning systems. By contrast, today’s standard diagnostic technology allows most refrigerant to escape into the atmosphere before the leaks are detected. Air conditioners in most motor vehicles manufactured before 1994 use a refrigerant called CFC-12, which is a chlorofluorocarbon, CFC. CFCs damage the ozone layer, and are no longer manufactured in the United States.
In 1992, vehicle manufacturers began using a refrigerant called HFC-134a that does not destroy ozone. But HFC-134a is still a fluorinated gas, and such gases are powerful and long-lived greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. New recycling machines can recover a higher amount of refrigerants from automotive air conditioner systems, which will minimize the amount of refrigerant that leaks into the atmosphere during system repair.
The new technologies will help reduce emissions by one million metric tons of carbon, the equivalent of the annual emissions from more than 650,000 cars, the EPA says. Leak-tight replacement parts and improved service procedures are currently under development and will further reduce refrigerant emissions in the future.
The EPA’s Mobile Air Conditioning Climate Protection Partnership helped developed these advances. This team of 100 corporate, government, and environmental organizations aims to rapidly improve the energy efficiency of vehicle air conditioning system by at least 30 per cent and reduce refrigerant emissions by at least 50 per cent.