GM Addresses Heat Wave (Well, one a few years from now. . .)

Given the heat wave that has been embracing much of the U.S. like a persistent fever, air conditioning is typically at the forefront of thought.

Given the heat wave that has been embracing much of the U.S. like a persistent fever, air conditioning is typically at the forefront of thought.

In automobiles, where the air con system certainly has to endure a whole lot more buffeting and environmental extremes than that object on the side of your house or inserted into a window, the loss of refrigerant can be a problem, particularly as it isn’t all that good for the environment. After all, if the refrigerant gets released into the atmosphere it can have the effect of trapping heat, which means that it can get hotter, which calls for more air con. . . .

Apparently, the R-134a refrigerant used in cars today has, according to General Motors, an atmospheric life of more than 13 years and has what is called a “global warming potential” GWP) of over 1,400. While we’re not exactly use what that number actually—or potentially—measures, we do know that it is big in relation to the number 4.

And 4 is the number that the refrigerant that GM is going to start using in its 2013 model Chevys, Buicks, GMCs, and Cadillacs. It is said to be as effective as the current refrigerant, so it is not like this is going to come at some exasperating and cause of perspirating deficiency.

This new refrigerant, HFO-1234yf, which is being sourced from Honeywell Fluorine Products, has an atmospheric life of 11 days.

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Consider: 13 years to 11 days. GWP from 1,400 to 4.

While we are not atmospheric scientists, we’re fairly confident that this change is certainly a laudable one.