Air Condition Systems and the Environment
Car air con systems require a refrigerant in order to work. This refrigerant is contained within sealed pipes that absorb heat from within the car and transfer it to the rear of the unit connected outside, expelling the hot air. In the process, the refrigerant cools down, and blows back cool air into your car.
Unfortunately, air con gas refrigerants are comprised of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which have made their way over the last 30 years or so into the atmosphere, damaging one of the layers, and causing a large hole in the ozone layer which protects the earth's surface from the suns high intense UV rays.
Although it has taken quite a while for the general population to understand the gravity of this fact, finally it seems that the public is taking steps to ensure the hole in the ozone layer due to CFCs doesn't get any bigger.
Found in aerosol propellants, blowing agents for the production of foam, and cleaning solvents, among others, CFC usage has diminished considerably since the news regarding the damaged ozone layer was announced.
When air con systems were introduced in cars after 1940, the refrigerant used was called Freon or R12, and a when the tank required refilling or a regas as it's otherwise known, no one batted an eyelid.
Until just over a decade ago, R12 was the most popular gas used for air con regas procedures, however, when it was discovered that just one molecule of CFC could destroy 100,000 molecules within the ozone layer, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) felt it necessary to get involved.
Since refrigeration is responsible for over a quarter of all CFC emissions, which are systematically destroying the ozone layer, it has become a matter of somewhat importance and the subject of considerable research.
As a result of new evidence, producing R12, the technical name of which is Dichlorodifluoromethane, became illegal on the 1st January, 1996. In fact, it was deemed so dangerous that anyone replacing the R12 cylinders had to be licensed by the EPA.
Known now as the old Freon, R12 has been replaced as an air con regas product by what is known as the new Freon named R-134a, (1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane).
Cheaper refrigerant products suitable for car air con systems have since come out on the market such as "Autofrost" which claims to be almost 100% less detrimental to the ozone layer, and over 75% less global warming, for a quarter of the price of R12.
Another brand that vies for the R12 replacement business is Freeze 12, boasting that it is even better than R-134a, producing colder air, therefore providing an excellent alternative when choosing a product to use for the regas of any cars air con system.
Such R12 replacement products are packaged so as to use the same fixtures as R12 and be compatible with the same lubricating oil. They are approved by the EPA, and are considerably cheaper than R12, which retails for nearly US$700 a cannister in some places.
To ensure that you comply with all safety and environmental standards, it is advisable to get a mobile SMART technician to perform a check on your air con system regularly. In this way, should the air con system require a regas, a qualified person will be able to do it.