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Cleantech
Automakers Developing CO2-Based Refrigerant for More Climate-Friendly Air-Conditioning

As part of its goal of becoming the world’s most environmentally sustainable carmaker by 2018, Volkswagen announced Friday that it will join Daimler and BMW in developing CO2 technology as a more climate-friendly refrigerant for its automotive air-conditioning systems.CO2 as a refrigerant — also known as R744 — is a naturally occurring gas with lower greenhouse gas effects than conventional refrigerants, and is ideal for use in specially designed automotive air-conditioning systems. The German automaker says the technology will be rolled out progressively over its entire vehicle fleet.

As part of its goal of becoming the world’s most environmentally sustainable carmaker by 2018, Volkswagen announced Friday that it will join Daimler and BMW in developing CO2 technology as a more climate-friendly refrigerant for its automotive air-conditioning systems.

CO2 as a refrigerant — also known as R744 — is a naturally occurring gas with lower greenhouse gas effects than conventional refrigerants, and is ideal for use in specially designed automotive air-conditioning systems. The German automaker says the technology will be rolled out progressively over its entire vehicle fleet.

Audi and Porsche, two more automakers that fall under the Volkswagen Group, will also switch to CO2 technology in mobile air conditioning systems as an alternative to R-1234yf, according to R744.com.

R-1234yf was developed by Honeywell and DuPont, intended as a more environmentally friendly refrigerant and an alternative to R134a, which is being phased out in the EU and will be banned starting in 2017. But last fall, Daimler announced it would stop using R-1234yf when engineers testing the compound discovered a potential for flammability and emission of a highly toxic gas during burning.

Critics of CO2 as a refrigerant argue that it requires comprehensive and costly redesign of air-conditioning systems, can cause drowsiness if it leaks into a car’s interior cabin and may trigger higher indirect carbon emissions since it potentially requires more fuel to operate.

To achieve its goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable automaker, the Volkswagen Group is reportedly investing two-thirds of its total investment capital in the development of efficient technologies, drive systems and vehicles, as well as in environmentally sustainable production.

In related news, Daimler, Ford and Renault-Nissan signed an agreement in January to jointly develop a fuel system for powering zero-emissions vehicles.

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