ACtion Magazine - April 2013 - (Page 21)

Annual report on regulations, technology and the mobile A/C service industry. by MACS Staff A fter a 30-year career at GM, presenter Ward Atkinson has had another full career on a variety of SAE and world regulatory committees, where he has influenced the very definition and design of modern automotive A/C. Atkinson is also a long-serving and well-known technical advisor to MACS. Beginning with a brief history of the industry, Atkinson pointed out that in the early 1990s the auto industry annually consumed more R-12 than would fit in all the vehicles in the fleet. That shows how much refrigerant was leaking and being vented to the atmosphere during service. While the amount of R-12 measured in the atmosphere has fallen dramatically since it was banned, he noted the increased “atmospheric loading” of other refrigerants, despite dramatic reductions in leakage and venting during service. He suggested that the increase in R-134a is a result of nonprofessional service procedures, saying that “If we had better control of the chemicals…we wouldn’t be seeing this increase.” Referencing history again, the graphs showed how the need for refrigerant system service has fallen dramatically as the average leakage rate has fallen, from about 67 grams/year in the early R-134a systems to about 14.5 grams/year today. Mr. Atkinson said that when this fact is combined with the smaller overall charge used in most systems today, “we probably can’t get lower than that” due to unavoidable venting of service hoses. He concluded that topic by saying “the industry has done a remarkable job of reducing (refrigerant) emissions.” When discussing the European regulations banning R-134a in new models, Mr. Atkinson said there is no such ban in the U.S., but the EPA is expecting the world’s automakers to gradually switch to a new refrigerant and “phase down” the use of R-134a in the U.S. The presentation also focused on several possible futures for A/C technology, including electric compressors for hybridvehicle battery cooling systems, waste heat recovery systems, heat pumps and secondary loop A/C systems for use with various refrigerants. One of the challenges is a reduction in the size of the average vehicle as automakers strive to meet stricter fuel mileage regulations. Sun load has a bigger impact in a smaller cabin, causing higher tailpipe emissions as the A/C system works harder to keep up. Refrigerant counterfeiting and contamination is a growing issue in the U.S., particularly the dangerously flammable blend coming out of Asia that includes R40. Mr. Atkinson showed photos of counterfeit packaging, stressing the importance of buying from known suppliers and identifying refrigerant even in new cylinders. As a result of Daimler questioning the safety of R-1234yf, Mr. Atkinson said “There is quite a bit of activity going on” within the SAE’s Cooperative Research Program (CRP). The situation is still quite fluid, as BMW announced that very day that they will join Daimler in refusing to use R-1234yf. “The only thing I can tell you is, stay tuned because there’s more information coming.” He concluded his presentation with a brief discussion of new service equipment and procedures that will require new technician training and certification. ❆ Ward Atkinson’s presentation on the State of the Industry was a highlight of the Convention. ACTION • April 2013 21

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ACtion Magazine - April 2013

ACtion Magazine - April 2013
Freeze Frame
Virtual View
Under the Southern Cross
Leonard’s Law
News & Updates
State of the Industry
R-1234YF Design and Service Considerations
Heavy Duty/Off Road Technical Session
Hybrid Evolution Continues
Modern Automotive HVAC Systems
Old-Timers, Team Players, Slackers and Kids: Do Your Employees ‘play’ Well Together?
Cheap Isn’t Always Best
A/C Season Check List: Is Your Shop Ready?
MACS 2013 Training Event Social Wrap-Up
Wallace Talks Up Big Brother
Association News
Quick Check
New Products & Services
Last Watch

ACtion Magazine - April 2013