WARRENDALE, PA — In conjunction with Earth Day yesterday, a new partnership agreement between select members of industry, government and environmental advocacy organizations was announced. The new collaborative effort will work to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the operation of motor vehicle air conditioning (A/C) systems.
The collaboration, called the Mobile Air Conditioning Climate Protection Partnership, involves numerous organizations, including: the Mobile Air Conditioning Society Worldwide, the Society of Automotive Engineers, DuPont, Delphi, General Motors, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the California Air Resources Board.
The goal of the partnership is to reduce fuel consumption from the operation of vehicle A/C by at least 30 percent and refrigerant emissions by 50 percent. Final agreement was reached at the Mobile Air Conditioning Summit organized by the Mobile A/C Climate Protection Partnership on April 15.
According to the EPA, when all cars feature this new technology, the improvements will save more than 2.5 billion gallons of fuel in the U.S. alone and 3 to 5 billion gallons of fuel per year worldwide. The cumulative reduction in fuel use and refrigerant emissions will avoid more than 35 billion kilograms of annual greenhouse gas emissions.
Scientists use the standard metric of “carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions” to compare the climate impact of greenhouse gases. The project will identify technologies with the potential to reduce by roughly one-half the carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions from the operation of air conditioning on new vehicles.
U.S. drivers could save $20 to $35 per year by using 11 to 20 gallons less fuel and can enjoy a one-time savings of at least $100 from increased reliability due to less frequent refrigerant recharge, according to analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The added cost of improved A/C is expected to cost the consumer less than $40, with average payback in two years and average savings of over $420 during the 16-year life of the vehicle. Increasing concern over climate protection is expected to encourage global adoption.
Air conditioning in vehicles has direct emissions of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants that are greenhouse gases and indirect tailpipe emissions from the additional fuel that is burned to power the cooling.
All vehicles currently use a refrigerant called HFC-134a, which is included in the gases scheduled for control under the Kyoto Protocol. European manufacturers and governments support new regulations that will phase out HFC-134a for vehicles after about 2012, but it is not yet clear whether replacement technology will better protect the climate. This project will improve the existing HFC-134a technology, raising the bar that competing technology will need to clear in order to capture markets in North America, Asia, and elsewhere, said MACS.
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