Keeping Cool Without Ozone Depletion

What's Ahead for Your Porsche Air Conditioner

By Bob Poggi

Automotive air conditioning has been around since the 1940s. Little has changed since the first systems were developed. In September 1987, the Montreal Protocol was signed by 26 nations. Concerned with the depletion of the upper ozone layer, the Montreal Protocol was reevaluated in 1992. The agreement now has the support of 110 nations which have agreed to reduce levels of ozone depleting agents (CFC's) in 1994 and eliminate production by 1995. This will have a major impact on the auto air conditioning industry, which has used CFC R-12 refrigerant almost exclusively until the 1994 model year.
Environmental Aspects
The ozone layer is a section of the atmosphere, which filters out the sun's ultraviolet rays before they reach the earth's surface. CFC's are chlorofluorocarbon gases, which attack the upper ozone stratospheric layer located 6-25 miles up in the atmosphere. As CFC's drift upward, ultraviolet rays break them down. This chemical process breaks out the chlorine atoms from the CFC molecules. Scientific studies indicate that a single chlorine atom can destroy 100,000 ozone molecules. A natural process creates the ozone. This natural production is being exceeded by the rapid introduction of CFC's into the environment.
122 million pounds of R-12 (Freon) were released into the environment in 1990 alone. Freon is an ozone-depleting gas, which has been the primary refrigerant used by the automotive air conditioning industry to date. The depletion of the ozone layer increases the amount of radiation, which enters the earth's atmosphere. The effects of this increased radiation level will affect the delicate, natural balance of the earth's environment.
Market Potential

There are approximately 140 million vehicles in the U.S. with CFC R-12 air conditioning systems. The automotive industry estimates 60-100 million of these will be upgraded between 1995 and the year 2000 to a new compound HFC R-134a which is a non-ozone-depleting substance.
The average retail upgrade cost for most late model vehicles will range from $200 to $800, depending on the year and the make of the vehicle. This staggering figure will result in a $20-60 billion retrofit cost in the U.S. alone. Retrofit An Environmental Upgrade
The automobile industry, in conjunction with the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has established retrofitting procedures for upgrading your existing CFC R-12 auto air conditioner to HFC R-134a. R-134a is currently being installed in most new production vehicles. This There are approximately 140 million vehicles in the U.S. with CFC R-12 air conditioning systems.

Compound is the only refrigerant accepted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Your vehicle's air conditioner works by a process in which the refrigerant in the system is constantly changing from a gas to a liquid. This evaporation process cools the vehicle. The upgrade process is a complex procedure, which requires specific execution in order to ensure a proper upgrade. Before replacing the refrigerant, the following steps must be performed:

  1. Check for leaks.

  2. Remove CFC R-12 refrigerant from A/C system and dispose of it properly.

  3. Inspect hoses, compressor and condenser.

  4. Remove the compressor, drain compressor oil into measuring cup.

  5. Replace same amount of oil with approved HFC R-134a ester oil.

  6. Remove receiver drier or accumulator.

  7. Install compressor connects hoses and install HFC R-134a services port fittings to compressor. NOTE: R-134a service port fittings will prevent R-12 from being reintroduced to the A/C system.

  8. Install new receiver drier or accumulator.

  9. Check all hoses and electrical connections.

  10. Evacuate air from system and charge with HFC R-134a refrigerant. NOTE; Each vehicle will vary as to the amount of refrigerant needed.

The EPA requires labeling all A/C systems, which have been upgraded.

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