Our Lower Global Warming Potential Refrigerant Hits the Road

Opteon™ YF (HFO-1234yf) rolls out in millions of cars.

Opteon™ YF cools like HFC-134a in automotive air conditioning systems.

But with a much lower global warming potential (GWP) – less than a single molecule of CO2.

Windows Up. AC On. From highway 110 to Beijing or Route 66 to Santa Monica, it's what drivers do when temperatures rise. But the HFC-134a automotive refrigerant that makes air conditioning systems work also contributes to global warming, when it escapes from sealed systems through leaks, servicing, and disposal. 

With over a billion cars on the road, something needed to change. As a chemical company, we were compelled to investigate the carbon footprint made by HFC-134a refrigerant.  

Better bonds. Evolving the chemistry of cool.

An illustration shows the evolution of refrigerants, from CFCs to low global warming potential HFOs, like Opteon™.

Conventional HFC refrigerants are composed of hydrogen, fluorine, and carbon atoms, connected by single bonds between the atoms. Opteon™ YF (HFO-1234yf) refrigerant is composed of hydrogen, fluorine, and carbon atoms, but contain at least one double bond between the carbon atoms.

It's a difference in chemistry that makes a big difference in Global Warming Potential. The most common refrigerant in use is HFC-134a, which has a GWP of 1,300 vs. less than 1 for Opteon™ YF. And, while HFCs can persist for years in the atmosphere, Opteon™ YF refrigerant has a lifetime measured in days.

The smaller the carbon footprint, the bigger the impact.

Over 50 million cars are estimated to be on the road using HFO-1234yf by the end of 2017.

A red racecar illustrates the growing use of Opteon™ YF in auto air conditioning systems.

Growing demand. Global supply.

With about 100 million new cars rolling off assembly lines each year, governments around the world are accelerating efforts to phase out high Global Warming Potential (GWP) HFCs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The European Commission initially paved the way by enforcing the Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) Directive, which includes requirements for new automotive air conditioning systems that high GWP HFCs can’t meet. In addition, the United States (Environmental Protection Agency), Japan (METI), and other countries have issued or proposed regulations that encourage the use of low GWP refrigerants in automotive air conditioning systems.

During the 2016 Kigali accord, hundreds of nations gathered to address the need to counter the powerful, climate impact of high GWP HFCs, which are used in air conditioners and refrigerators. This agreement signifies that 170 countries will begin to actively freeze their reliance on HFCs, reducing the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide by 70 billion tons by 2050.*

With current manufacturing sites in China, Japan, and the United States, Chemours has taken Opteon™ YF from global launch in 2011 into mass production to meet our customers’ projected demand. With its low global warming potential and excellent cooling performance, Opteon™ YF is primed to be the next-generation refrigerant leader.

We've built the infrastructure to make an impact.

We have aftermarket distribution capabilities in 40 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and across the United States. 

Service equipment for use in handling Opteon™ YF is commercially available. Increasing use is creating a ripple effect, with aftermarket service capabilities developing in new countries as vehicles containing Opteon™ YF go to market.

From cars to supermarkets to kitchens.

The next stop for our Opteon™ portfolio of low GWP products includes high-temperature heat pumps; building air conditioning systems and insulation; and finally, insulating the warehouses and transportation systems that preserve food from farm to fork, including home refrigerators.

A supermarket cold case illustrates a potential application of Opteon™ YF.

While the breakthrough chemistry across our Opteon™ product line is focused on lower GWP, it's also important to note that our Opteon™ products increase energy efficiency in some applications and retain other important properties including low toxicity, nonflammability or mild flammability, and zero ozone-depletion potential.

 

*Source: “Nations, Fighting Powerful Refrigerant That Warms Planet, Reach Landmark Deal.” New York Times, October 15, 2016.

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