In a move that will please environmentalists around the globe, General Motors has announced it will be the first manufacturer to use a new strain of more environmentally-benign refrigerant in its vehicle air-conditioning systems starting with the 2013 model year. GM says this new alternative -- HFO-1234yf -- is just as effective as the R-134a currently being used throughout the industry but reduces heat-trapping gases released to the atmosphere by more than 99 percent.
Produced and supplied by Honeywell, HFO-1234yf is capable of breaking down and dispersing in just 11 days -- compared to the approximate 13-year time cycle required by R-134a. In formal terms, R-134a carries a standardized global warming potential (GWP) index number in excess of 1,400 while the new HFO-1234yf formulation has a rating of just 4. In addition to helping diminish the potential impact of its vehicles on potential global warming, transitioning to HFO-1234yf refrigerant will also help GM in its quest to meet -- and exceed -- the latest and most stringent round of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations that cover motor vehicle-related greenhouse gas emissions.
"GM's decision to adopt this new refrigerant is additional proof of our commitment to be on the forefront of green technologies that will keep our planet healthy for our children and grand-children," said Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Environment, Energy and Safety Policy. "It's not just about meeting regulatory requirements; it's about environmental leadership and GM plans to lead in developing new technologies that will take the vehicle out of the environmental debate."