GM, defying Daimler's fire concerns, sticks with new refrigerant from Honeywell, DuPont
January 5, 2012
by David Sedgwick
General Motors is sticking with its decision to introduce a new, more environmentally safe refrigerant in its vehicles despite claims by Daimler that it may cause fires in an accident.
A GM executive said GM conducted additional crash tests plus computer simulations after the German automaker raised questions about the refrigerant HFO-1234yf.
In August, Daimler engineers simulated a crash test and found that a mix of refrigerant and oil from the compressor could be ignited by the hot surface of the engine, creating a toxic gas.
But Curt Vincent, GM's engineering manager for new refrigerants, disputes Daimler's claims.
"We did crash tests, computer simulations and thermal analysis and did not observe any safety problems at all," Vincent told Automotive News, a sister publication of Automotive News Europe, in a phone interview. "Many [researchers] have tried to repeat Daimler's findings, but no one has come forward with anything that would indicate any concern."
Vincent made his remarks even as Daimler and Volkswagen postponed their use of the refrigerant.
GM already uses the chemical in the Cadillac XTS and in the European version of the Chevrolet Malibu. Over the next five years or so, GM will convert most of its models sold in North America to the new refrigerant, Vincent said.
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