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Environmental Code of Practice for Elimination of Fluorocarbon Emissions from Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Systems

Mobile Air Conditioners (Automobiles)

4.1 Design
4.2 Manufacture
4.3 Servicing
4.4 Handling of Refrigerant in Automobiles Slated for Wrecking
4.5 Training of Personnel
4.6 Records

The basic principles which underlie Sections 2 and 3 of this report can also be applied to mobile air conditioning.

The operation, service, and repair of mobile air conditioning systems is one of the major sources of ODS emissions.

With the new focus of pollution prevention and elimination of refrigerant emissions into the atmosphere, the automobile industry should address these concerns. Systems should be designed in such a way that they do not leak. New improved technologies such as hermetic compressors attached with leak-proof tubing or hoses, leak-proof seals, and access fittings should be assessed.

Automobile manufacturing, distribution, and service industries should incorporate product stewardship into their corporate policies, if not already present.

4.1 Design

Manufacturers should ensure that the design of mobile air conditioners includes a series of proven features, such as the following, that will eliminate refrigerant loss into the atmosphere.

  • anti-vibration mountings;
  • heavy-duty clamps;
  • near zero permeability, temperature resistance hoses;
  • high pressure screwed or compression fittings; and
  • access connection for recovery/service.

With the use of alternate refrigerants or interim refrigerants, it is essential that zero permeability hoses be used.

4.2 Manufacture

4.2.1 Cleanliness

The system should be absolutely clean to reduce the risk of contamination of refrigerant or compressor damage, thus eliminating the need for subsequent recharging. Supervisory personnel should be conversant with refrigerant technology and familiar with all aspects of the manufacturing process, especially emission elimination procedures and refrigerant recovery.

4.2.2 Discharge Evacuation

Discharge evacuation valves should be fitted to the suction and discharge sides of the air conditioning system to assist in the servicing and maintenance of the installation.

4.2.3 Leak Testing

Leak Testing for mobile use, using the refrigerant as the test gas in accordance with SAE J1627 and J1628 (see Appendix A) is acceptable provided that:

  • visual inspection indicates no signs of oil deposits from a large leak or any other obvious physical damage;
  • non-operating system refrigerant pressure at or above room temperature is a minimum gauge pressure of 340 kPa (50 psi); and
  • all refrigerant from the test must be recovered immediately following the test, if there is a leak.

4.2.4 Fluorescent Dyes

Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) should use fluorescent dyes or other proven technology in new manufactured or imported vehicles commencing on or before January 1, 1998.

4.3 Servicing

4.3.1 Venting

Venting refrigerants to the atmosphere during servicing operations must be eliminated by the use of recovery equipment and the subsequent reuse, recycling, and reclamation of the refrigerant.

4.3.2 Container Size

Federal regulation requires that "No refrigerant will be sold in containers of 10 kg (22 lb) or less". The disposable containers should not be used. Only refillable approved containers should be used.

4.3.3 Equipment Conversion

After January 1, 2000, automotive air conditioning systems should not be recharged with CFC-12. Equipment conversion of mobile air conditioning systems will become necessary after this date.

Alternative Refrigerant . HFC-134a is the choice supported by the OEMs at present for the alternatives to CFC-12.

Manufacturers should have conversion kits for most late models cars or vehicles under warranty.

Use of HFC-134a . Avoid leaks and emissions by following the manufacturers instructions EXACTLY. Do not omit any steps. In addition:

  • recover all the existing CFC-12 and store it in an approved recovery container. Refer to the manufacturers' instructions for your specific make and model;
  • change all required parts using the correct kit; leak test the system to ensure there are no leaks using an electronic leak detector; repair any leaks as necessary;
  • charge the correct amount of HFC-134a refrigerant and the recommended oil;
  • the system should be operated and leak checked again; and
  • recycle or reclaim the used CFC-12 and retain for servicing other older vehicles or for reclamation. Relabel under the hood, stating the type of refrigerant and quantity charged as well as type of oil and quantity charged and the date. (see Appendix B).

Automotive Blends . There are several automotive blends available. Use caution in selecting the one to be used. Blends are not recommended or supported by the automotive manufacturer. These blends should not contain a CFC ozone-depleting substance and should have service fittings unique from R - 12 or R-134a, to avoid contamination in the vehicle system or in the recovered material. In the United States, some states have banned the use of highly flammable blends.

  • The use of all blends should be consistent with requirements and standards of the SAE or EPA.
  • Some blends may contain hydrocarbons which may attack hoses or gaskets designed for fluorocarbons. This should be confirmed, before retrofitting.
  • The density of the blend may be different than CFC-12 so the quantity may have to be adjusted to ensure proper operation.
  • The label, which should be applied under the hood, should give the ASHRAE number of the blend and clearly identify if it is flammable.
  • Confirm if the oil needs to be changed or not.
  • Information on performance of blends including safety and compatibility should be verified by the manufacturer or supplier and be available in a published format.
  • Recovery/Recycle equipment should be suitable for the specific refrigerant or blend being recovered. Recovery equipment fittings should be different from those used for R-12 or R-134a and consistent with of the vehicle.
  • Relabel under the hood.

4.4 Handling of Refrigerant in Automobiles Slated for Wrecking

It is essential that all refrigerant in the air conditioning system be removed, and oil collected according to local regulations before the car is wrecked or scrapped. The dealer or wrecker must use a certified service person trained in the safe handling of refrigerants, to remove the refrigerant. The refrigerant should be recovered for recycling, reclaiming or disposal of as a hazardous waste. Oil should be sent to the reclaim facilities or disposed of in accordance with the local regulation. Containers should be properly labelled, including ASHRAE refrigerant number.

4.5 Training of Personnel

Service personnel should be fully trained in leak test procedures for mobile air conditioning refrigeration equipment and possess an environmental awareness course certificate.

4.6 Records

Active service organizations must maintain up-to-date records of receipts, shipments, inventory levels of new, used, and recycled refrigerant (e.g., CFC, HCFC, HFC, other and ASHRAE designated blends).

Some provinces require that accidental and intentional releases of refrigerants be reported to the provincial authority.

All refrigerants must be removed before parts are shredded or salvaged.

It is unlawful in some provinces to sell new or used components from the closed loop side of the mobile air conditioning system to people who are not certified in the safe handling of refrigerants. To ensure that only trained certified service/repair persons are purchasing new or used components for or from the closed loop side of the system, the service/repair person's certification number should be on the bill of sale.

Some provinces recognize businesses as corporate persons and issue Secondary Distribution Certificates for larger companies that assume the same responsibilities as service persons for the care and safe keeping of refrigerant and components.