The Cool War: Automakers Sustainable Solution

By: Lauren Woods



The alarming effects of global warming created considerable pressure to both the private and public sectors. The lawmakers and automakers are just few of the bodies and organizations troubled by this fact. Lawmakers are burdened by the need to produce timely mandates in connection with fuel emissions and auto air conditioning. Automakers, meanwhile, are battling to grab the less onerous mandate they could get.

With the probability to knock out one percent of global greenhouse gases, automakers are being urged to choose the sustainable solution in "The Cool War" as they make their decision over which new refrigerant to adopt for air conditioning in cars in the coming weeks.

"CO2 Technology outperforms competing chemical refrigerants on all three counts", said Wolfgang Lohbeck, Greenpeace's Head of Technical Innovations and Projects. "It is more environmentally friendly, more technically ready and more cost-efficient than competing chemical refrigerants. The danger is that a chemical blend such as Fluid H, DP1, or AC1 prevails due to a focus on short term cost savings and as chemical companies employ delaying tactics to try to buy time to develop new substances that they can profit from."

The legislature has formulated a mandate phasing out the existing chemical refrigerant HFC-134a. The mandate, which is estimated to cost $14.5 billion this year, will start from January 2011 onwards. The reason behind such mandate is the warming potential of the refrigerant which is over 1,400 times greater than that of CO2 Technology. To comply with the Directive, automakers are expected to settle on a new refrigerant as they usually need three to four years to develop new car platforms including the new air conditioning systems.

"From the perspective of environmental protection, we see CO2 Technology as the only viable solution for car air conditioning", said Jurgen Resch, the Head of the German NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe. "By using a CO2-based air conditioning system, total car emissions can be reduced by up to ten percent."

"Moreover other sectors are adopting a wait-and-see approach", he continued. "If the car industry opts for CO2 Technology then we are likely to see it also being adopted by the manufacturers of vending machines, supermarket cabinets, heat pumps for domestic water heating, industrial refrigeration, to name but a few. At this level of uptake, CO2 Technology has the potential to remove three percent of the world's greenhouse gases. In essence CO2 Technology is taking the problem and turning it into part of the solution."

At present, carbon dioxide is emitted as an industrial waste product directly to the environment. By reusing it for cooling and heating a car, this carbon dioxide becomes environmentally neutral. On the contrary, competing chemical alternatives have to be manufactured from scratch with all accompanying environmental yokes. Though the mandate does not require other auto parts like a and filters to be replaced, a significant amount is necessary for its compliance.

How alarming is global warming? As reported, America is facing its worst summer drought since the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression. "A lot of people think climate change and the ecological repercussions are 50 years away," said Thomas Swetnam, an environmental scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson. "But it's happening now in the West. The data is telling us that we are in the middle of one of the first big indicators of climate change impacts in the continental United States."

"The West can expect ten to twenty percent less rainfall by mid-century and shrink the available water supply by as much as twenty-five percent," said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's recent report.

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