Exclusive R744.com Interview with DUH

By R744.com team, Oct 24, 2008, 16:58 4 minute reading

In an interview with R744.com, Jürgen Resch, CEO of DUH (Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V.), offers an insight into the organisation’s controversial publications and reactions over the last few days regarding the choice of refrigerant for next generation vehicle air conditioning.

R744.com. Mr. Resch, could you please explain the background to the testing of 1234yf that you show in a video published on your website, when and how was it done?

DUH: We wanted to know concretely what was behind 1234yf and decided to do own testing. In many expert discussions, telephone calls but also in personal conversations our assumption was confirmed that automobile manufacturers where trying to shy away from their responsibility. At first we had some problems to get hold of the refrigerant, which delayed our tests initially planned for summer. In September we finally started the testing series. For this we made the car equipped with a standard air conditioning system reach its normal operating temperature and then simulated an accident. For the 2nd and 3rd test we refilled the system with 1234yf and repeated the procedure. The impressive results are clearly captured on the video.

R744.com: The VDA published a press release on Monday stating that 1234yf is ruled out as an option for a majority of its members. How do you interpret this statement and the timing chosen to publish it?

DUH: We consider this to be another delaying tactic of German carmakers. The VDA’s hurried statements from Monday and Wednesday wanted to prevent us from publicizing our findings. There is still no clear commitment to CO2, only the announcement that a majority of companies have finalised investigations on 1234yf. The VDA thus confirms that its members have not yet made reality their farewell from chemical refrigerants announced already last year. Moreover, the renewed commitment to natural refrigerants is now only reduced to “a majority of companies”. It is high time that VDA president Matthias Wissmann makes sure that last year’s decision is enforced for all VDA members, so that from 2011 on no chemical refrigerants like R134a and 1234yf are used.

R744.com: Honeywell and DuPont have repeatedly said that 1234yf is only mildly flammable, and that it does not produce toxic decomposition products. External observers will be wondering, how is it possible that you obtain such different results in your testing?

DUH: Our investigations have painted a clear picture: 1234yf is flammable and it releases highly toxic hydrofluoric acid. When the air conditioning hose is torn off – which happens often in such a case – and touches a 400°C hot object, this chemical reaction occurs. Apparently, chemical companies test their chemical in a different way…

R744.com. In DUH’s press release yesterday, it is mentioned that Opel and Ford are still testing 12343yf. Further investigations by the German press agency (dpa) found that VW is rejecting “R1234yf” but that it is also still looking at other alternatives. Did these manufacturers comment on when their testing would be finalised, so that a decision could be taken?

DUH: No. We didn’t receive any statement from Opel and Ford when we contacted them, despite several attempts. They always referred us to the VDA. All manufacturers are shirking concrete details about vehicle models that would be equipped with CO2 Technology from 2011 on. If you take into account which features carmakers have already announced for the period 20xx and beyond, then it is somewhat surprising to not get clear information about environmentally friendly air conditioning scheduled for 2011. Obviously, they are playing for time to delay the introduction deadline of 2011 and thereby further postpone hundreds of millions of investment costs.

R744.com: It is easy to imagine that the publication of this video and DUH’s press release from yesterday (23 October) has created quite some controversy. Could you please comment on the reactions to your publications?

DUH: The chemical company Honeywell has threatened to take legal steps should we talk badly about 1234yf. Otherwise we’ve received several inquiries from employees of German automotive companies informing us that our test results concerning 1234yf are correct.

R744.com: How do you evaluate the progress on car manufacturers outside the frame of VDA regarding this issue? Do you believe we will see decisions and/ or further announcements soon?

DUH: We demand a clear commitment to CO2 from all relevant manufacturers, including the US, Japan and other European states. We want to know when the current refrigerant R134a will be replaced with CO2. We will see what happens over the next couple of weeks. One thing is clear: if there are no clear investment decisions made in favour of CO2 within the next weeks, the deadline for the EU directive can no longer be kept.

R744.com: Could you comment on what are the next steps planned by DUH regarding this issue?

DUH: We will stick to this issue and will observe the decisions made by all companies. We will also present our findings regarding 1234yf, the favoured refrigerant until now, at press conferences in the US and in Europe. We demand that manufacturers only use the natural refrigerant CO2 in new vehicles from 2011 on.

R744.com: Thank you Mr. Resch.


By R744.com team (@r744)

Oct 24, 2008, 16:58

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