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R134a phase-out

renim

Active Member
Apr 6, 2013
1,798
2,249
Oz
Last edited:

gckmac

Member
Aug 4, 2017
6
2
New York, NY
I think the point here is being missed somehow.... this isn't ICE vs EV. This is HFC-134a vs HFO-1234yf. 134a is >1400x worse than 1234yf. The point is that Tesla as a sustainability leader should be helping to push for that shift to help bring the cost down.

Yes, thank you nwdiver. My comment did not tie refrigerants to cars specifically. But cars are a subset, and why would Tesla's subset use a refrigerant about to be banned by the EPA (and largely banned in the EU).

Here is the EPA citation: The EPA has banned it for all new cars as of 2021 model year. See Refrigerant Transition & Environmental Impacts | US EPA which also has a nice GWP chart. Incidentally, my gut from prior reading was correct, HFO-1234yf has a GWP of 4 (per Drawdown) not less than 1. The other source I had read was wrong. Also, HFC-134a has a GWP of 1,430 so it is like 1,430 CO2 molecules . . . this is per the EPA cite above).

As for cost. In 2017, it costs about $19.98 to fill up a car with R-134a (assuming 3 pounds per car). See How Much Does R-134a Cost Per Pound in 2017? - Refrigerant HQ . This versus $210 to fill up a car with R-1234ya. See How Much is 1234YF Per Pound in 2017? - Refrigerant HQ

At least give me the option to pay the extra $190 to avoid the second worst possible GWP refrigerant (per EPA chart). And again, on a $75,000 car, a Tesla yet, why R-134a?

UPDATE: Interestingly, the EPA link above states that Tesla model S is already using R-1234ya. But this is not what I saw on the engine label. So who is correct?


Regardless of the percent of leakage -- and common sense dictates there will always be some, e.g., mechanics may be sloppy and the very manufacturing process surely releases some R-134a into the air -- this is a critical environmental issue.

gckmac
 
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gckmac

Member
Aug 4, 2017
6
2
New York, NY
I think the issue is in regards to combustion and toxicity, 1234yf has dubious safety qualities if involved in an accident.

I've read many analyses to the contrary. E.g. Honeywell defends R1234yf refrigerant against Daimler ("safety analysts estimate the risk of exposure to HF or fire due to an R1234yf ignition event at 100,000 times less likely than a vehicle collision due to brake failure"). There are many more such cites.

Too, it hasn't troubled the EPA or EU. R-1234yf is going to be used in all cars and refrigerators and air conditioners in a few years.

gckmac
 
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gckmac

Member
Aug 4, 2017
6
2
New York, NY
truly safe cars use CO2, not 1234yf

CO2 would certainly be nice versus R-1234yf vis-a-vis GWP, but it certainly could mean more service calls, something Tesla surely would want to avoid. The high pressure required (10x the norm) would mean that hoses, seals and other components would need substantiallly greater strength to contain it, and would be substantially more stressed over time. We all know that seals fail. See Daimler announces it will use R1234yf refrigerant for all models other than S-Class and new E-Class ("Mercedes said in its statement that '[t]he use of CO2 as a refrigerant necessitates the redesign of crucial components. CO2 air-conditioning systems operate at a pressure of more than 100 bar – some 10 times higher than that of today's systems. This means that all components including the hoses and seals need to be redesigned.'")

gckmac
 
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gckmac

Member
Aug 4, 2017
6
2
New York, NY
To get to the bottom of this I called Tesla technical support (Matt).

According to Matt, all Tesla models sold in the U.S. (S, X and 3) use R-134a. This is because Tesla is waiting for R-1234yf to be more "stable." We then chatted and, in our discussion, we posited that the EPA listing for S using R-1234yf may be because the S is being sold in Europe, where R-1234yf is required. Further verification would require a call to the EPA.

So R-134a it is (with a GWP of 1,430) for all Tesla models sold in the USA, until the EPA model year 2021 deadline to convert to R-1234yf (or hopefully earlier or, even more hopefully, until something better is selected, e.g., pure CO2 if it doesn't create hose and seal maintenance issues due to its 10x normal pressure).

P.S. Per the EPA, here are the cars using R-1234yf: "Models using HFO-1234yf include: Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Spark EV, BMW i3 and i8, Chrysler 200, Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, Dodge Dart, Dodge Durango, Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Wrangler, Ram 1500, Fiat 500 and 500L, Alfa Romeo 4C, Honda Fit EV, Tesla Model S, Range Rover, and Range Rover Sport." See Refrigerant Transition & Environmental Impacts | US EPA. For all we know, many of these could just be cars sold in Europe.

gckmac
 
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SageBrush

REJECT Fascism
May 7, 2015
12,227
15,135
New Mexico
I found a bottle of R-134a refrigerant meant to re-pressurize the AC in a car through Walmart.
It weighed 550 grams, so about 150 grams of CO2e
then about 150*1430 = 214,500 grams equivalent GWP

Presuming a renewal lasts 5 years, the car A/C is emitting ~ 53 Kg a year of GWP
A gallon of combusted petrol emits about 12 Kg GWP (including extraction and refinery)
 

365gtb4

Member
Jun 5, 2015
145
118
Redlands
For years I have used isobutane based products to replace fluorocarbon refrigerants. They aren't sold in the US because the chemical lobby protects their turf. I buy them from Canada and they are more efficient than R134. I've used them as a direct substitution.
 
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OPRCE

Member
Jun 16, 2018
860
768
Bern, CH
For years I have used isobutane based products to replace fluorocarbon refrigerants. They aren't sold in the US because the chemical lobby protects their turf. I buy them from Canada and they are more efficient than R134. I've used them as a direct substitution.

Hi, I am interested to know if you mean you used this isobutane product in a Tesla aircon system and if so how it has worked out for the purpose long-term?

Also what is the name of the product please?
 

compu85

Supporting Member
Jun 7, 2016
256
231
Springfield, VA, USA
Enviro-Safe is one of the brand names.

I would never, ever use it in a Tesla. You have to insure compatibility with the oil, and have the same heat rejection curves.

From personal experience I can say Envirosafe works OK in an old R12 system when it's not super hot out, but when the temps climb above 95*f, it doesn't work well.

-J
 
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365gtb4

Member
Jun 5, 2015
145
118
Redlands
Hi, I am interested to know if you mean you used this isobutane product in a Tesla aircon system and if so how it has worked out for the purpose long-term?

Also what is the name of the product please?
I never used enviro-safe in my tTeslas, no need to, they're under warranty. I have used it in Ferrari's, Fords and GM cars. It work really well in the hot southern California deserts.
 
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Bill Price

Member
Sep 23, 2018
474
557
Indianapolis
I was pleased but not too surprised to find Tesla on the list of automotive manufacturers that have adopted the new refrigerant.

I've been concerned about the high GWP (Global Warming Potential) of refrigerants for a while now. While researching CO2 as a refrigerant I stumbled across another 'new' refrigerant that borders on being miraculous. CO2 has a GWP of 1 since it's the index. R134a has a 100-year GWP of 1430! The new refrigerant that has been selected to replace R134a, with the catchy name of R1234YF has a GWP of 4!
R134a and R1234yf are similar, however, R1234yf was created as a more environmentally friendly replacement to R134a. The biggest difference between the two, is that R1234yf is mildly flammable and does require special handling. Diagnosis of the air-conditioning system can be done in the same way as with R134a. However, you will need different recovery machines, and other equipment to handle R1234yf. Some recovery machines are equipped for both R134a and R1234yf, these machines will be equipped with automatic refrigerant detection. To further help avoid confusion, ports for R1234yf systems are a different size. Unlike when R12 was changed to R134a, you cannot retrofit to use R1234yf.

The potential flammability of R1234yr has caused some European OEMs to choose R744 instead. R744 is carbon dioxide so, it is non-flammable. In Europe, Mercedes-Benz is using R744 on the 2017 E-Class. Volkswagen Group stated the next generation Audi A8 will also be equipped with R744. This refrigerant uses very different A/C equipment because of the high pressure required, about 1400 PSI. This also, causes safety concerns.
 

SSedan

Active Member
Jul 24, 2017
2,948
2,309
Greenville Wisconsin
Since Teslas use the A/C system to cool the batteries. When the r134 is banned and you have a failure of the A/C system will these cars be junk. Since you can't charge the system anymore

That is not the way it works, outdated refrigerants are available for decades as service option, what is banned is sale of new equipment using a chemical.
 

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