Mobile air conditioning in cars, buses and railway vehicles

An EU directive has banned the use of fluorinated refrigerants with a global warming potential of more than 150 in certain mobile air conditioning systems since Jan. 2011. It requires the previously used refrigerant tetrafluoroethane (R134a) to be replaced. Natural refrigerants are considered the best environmental alternative. Climate-friendly alternatives are also available for buses and trains.

Mobile air conditioning in cars

EU Directive 2006/40/EC relating to emissions from air-conditioning systems in motor vehicles has prohibited the use of refrigerants with a global warming potential (GWP) higher than 150 in new vehicle types of passenger cars and small commercial vehicles since 1 January 2011. From January 2017 the ban applies to mobile air conditioning systems of every new vehicle of these categories.

Whereas since 2012 the flammable fluorinated refrigerant, 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoropropene (R1234yf) has been on the market for new car types in Europe and the USA, a few car manufacturers are developing systems for carbon dioxide (CO2) as refrigerant. First cars were available on the market as early as 2016. The German Environment Agency had successfully trialed the refrigerant CO2 in one of its official cars from 2009 to 2017.

Further information on trifluoroacetic acid as a degradation product of halogenated refrigerants can be found on the website on degradation products.

Mobile air conditioning in buses

Mobile air conditioning systems in buses are still using tetrafluoroethane (R134a), a greenhouse gas with a climate impact that is 1,430 higher than that of carbon dioxide. A climate-friendly alternative exists: Some city buses are already using CO2-based mobile air conditioning systems. For more information, go to air conditioning for buses.

Mobile air conditioning in rail vehicles

Fluorinated refrigerants are still the standard used in rail vehicle air conditioning systems today. One class of ICE trains has been cooling with air conditioning systems using ambient air for about 15 years. The German railway company Deutsche Bahn for instance plans to switch to natural refrigerants in the future. Possible solutions include systems with natural refrigerants CO2 or hydrocarbons and modernized systems based on air-cycle technology. For more information, go to mobile air conditioning for rail vehicles.

Mobile Refrigeration

Transport refrigeration systems are used to produce and maintain the cooling temperature of products, especially foodstuffs, in small and large refrigerated vehicles, containers and refrigerated ships. In transport refrigeration systems, fluorinated refrigerants have mainly been used up to now. Some transport refrigeration systems with natural refrigerants, i.e. carbon dioxide (R744) and hydrocarbons, have already been developed and demonstrated. Here you can find further information on transport refrigeration systems.