Sanden: Electric cars will drive CO2 MAC uptake

CO2 mobile air-conditioning’s success is linked to boosting the efficiency of electric vehicles, explained Sanden International’s Michael Matthias at ATMOsphere Europe 2018.

Michael Matthias, general manager, head of engineering, at Sanden International tells the audience, at ATMOsphere Europe 2018, about Sanden's mechanical CO2 compressor for MAC applications. 

Credit: Ben Beech 

“Through electrification [of vehicles], I’m confident CO2-based MAC [mobile air conditioning] will make its mark,” said Michael Matthias, general manager, head of engineering, at Sanden International, which makes CO2 compressors for mobile air-conditioning systems.

He shared his views at ATMOsphere Europe 2018 (which was organised by publisher of this website shecco) in Riva del Garda, Italy, held on 19-21 November.

How will electric vehicles (EVs) increase the uptake of CO2 MAC? As Matthias explained at the natural refrigerants conference, it will only be possible to make a vehicle’s battery last longer – and thereby maximise the driving range of EVs – if the HVAC system in cars is energy efficient.

When used in a heat pump and air-conditioning system in a car, CO2 offers a competitive advantage in terms of energy efficiency compared to other refrigerants; it is estimated to increase driving ranges by up to 38%, according to Sanden.

We’re investigating the opportunity to increase the efficiency for CO2-based systems suitable for electric cars.
– Michael Matthias, Sanden International 

Sanden already has 40,000 vehicles on the market with a CO2 MAC system but these are with mechanical compressors. Soon the company will shift to mass-producing electric compressors, which use CO2 as the refrigerant in a mobile air-conditioning and heat pump system. “Now the goal is all about electrification to improve performance,” he said.

“We’re investigating the opportunity to increase the efficiency for CO2-based systems suitable for electric cars,” Matthias noted. “This would be a significant added value [for car manufacturers to offer customers].”

With an extended driving range, electric car buyers may not mind having a slightly more expensive HVAC system in their car.

More regulation needed

CO2 MAC is currently not very widespread in cars and only represents around 0.001% of MAC installations, according to Laurent Descourtieux, sales manager at MAC filling-station provider Fives Filling & Sealing. He agrees electrification will help uptake but believes only a regulatory push will really drive the MAC market towards CO2.

Since January 2017 the European Union’s MAC Directive bans refrigerants with more than a 150 global warming potential (GWP) in cars. “HFO in Europe came in 2017,” Descourtieux said. “Car manufacturers today are quite happy with this refrigerant today, to be honest.”

It is worth noting that two European Environmental Agencies raised concerns about the HFO R1234yf this year and last year but no regulatory action on this refrigerant has been taken so far.

To change the state of play for CO2, said Descourtieux, “we need also an appropriate policy support,” such as further changes to the MAC Directive or government incentives. 

Even with more regulatory pressure to push the MAC industry towards natural refrigerants in cars, Michael R. Ingvardsen, president of EU industry group MACPartners, warned that compliance and training remain a barrier in the aftermarket (once the car is sold to the consumer).

“We need to enforce efficient compliance watchdogs,” said Ingvardsen, who is also the global technical trainer at MAC component manufacture Nissens. He pointed out that many technicians on the ground are still filling their cars with climate-damaging refrigerants (which contravenes the MAC directive).  

There is also a lack of clear communication between the technicians who ultimately repair and fill MAC systems and those who manufacture the systems, which makes it difficult for the systems to be serviced properly.

To learn how to operate MAC systems with CO2, Ingvardsen noted that he had to attend commercial refrigeration classes in the Netherlands as no local classes were available.

“We need the input of OEM manufacturers about their innovations [like CO2 MAC] and research to train properly MAC technicians so they’re up-to-date with technology,” he explained. “We need to create a certification system for training [and] harmonise training practises.” 

He said as president of MACPartners he was working towards a training standard for the industry to follow in Europe.

By Charlotte McLaughlin

Nov 28, 2018, 15:57

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