Mobile Air Conditioning
Industry Experts Document how HFC-134a Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Vehicle A/C Can be cut in Half
Industry experts recently documented ways to minimize HFC-134a emissions that occur during vehicle air conditioning servicing and repair that could eliminate millions of pounds of refrigerant emissions each year. The refrigerant used in vehicle air conditioning systems, HFC-134a, is a powerful greenhouse gas. One kilogram of HFC-134a has the same global warming impact as 1,430 kilograms of carbon dioxide.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 20 percent of the HFC-134a in equipment is emitted to the atmosphere each year. According to the U.S. EPA, total mobile A/C emissions in 2004 were 24,539 metric tons (52% of total U.S. HFC-134a emissions). This is the equivalent of 35,090,770 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Most of these emissions occur during servicing, repair, and vehicle end-of-life (disposal).
Since Earth Day in 2004, more than 100 industry experts have been working intensely to reduce the global warming impacts of vehicle A/C through "Improved Mobile Air Conditioning" (I-MAC) cooperative research project.
Six working groups of 35 industry experts were established to identify ways to minimize refrigerant emissions from servicing, repair, and vehicle end-of-life. This team concluded that "HFC-134a emissions from mobile air conditioning in the U.S. could potentially be reduced by millions of pounds annually with the introduction and implementation of tools, equipment, techniques, procedures and policies as follows:
- More efficient refrigerant recovery and more accurate charging equipment and procedures.
- Improved leak detection (tools and procedures).
- Mandatory repair of A/C system leaks before system recharge.
- Quality components; correct installation and connections.
- Reduction of emissions from refrigerant container heels.
- Elimination of DIY recharge of leaking systems.
- Better compliance with recovery requirements and more efficient recovery at vehicle end of life.
- Restricting sale of refrigerant only to certified technicians."
They also introduced improved refrigerant recovery, recycling and leak-detection technology expected to reduce annual refrigerant emissions by one million metric tons of carbon equivalent (MMTCE).