ACtion Magazine - April 2013 - (Page 21)
Annual report on regulations, technology and the mobile A/C service industry.
by MACS Staff
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
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ACtion Magazine - April 2013
ACtion Magazine - April 2013
Under the Southern Cross
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
New Products & Services
ACtion Magazine - April 2013