European Commission sets new deadline: manufacturers may continue to use old refrigerants

written by Pavel Makhnatch (under supervision of Rahmatollah Khodabandeh and Björn Palm)

Published May 18, 2012

HFO-1234yf is accepted to become new low GWP refrigerant to be used in MAC systems. Due to increased demand and insufficient supply, the automotive industry is continuing to experience HFO-1234yf supply problems. Hence, the European Commission allows car manufacturers to use old refrigerant (R-134a) to fill new type approved production vehicles until the end of this year.

European Commission has recently released a note on “The supply shortage of an essential component in mobile air conditioning systems and its impact to the application of Directive 2006/40/EC in the automotive industry “ addressing the HFO-1234yf refrigerant supply shortage problem. As for now, companies DuPont and Honeywell, due to existing patents, are the only worldwide suppliers that can produce the refrigerant HFO-1234yf. But they can not manage to meet the demand as the production facility in Japan, which was disrupted by the events following the earthquake of 11 March 2011, produces only very small volumes of the refrigerant, and the new facility for mass production in China, that should be ready for production at the beginning of 2012, is still not operating due to a new and unexpectedly cumbersome registration process to be completed. Other companies have shown  their willingness to produce HFO-1234yf, but faced legislative burden.

According to the note :

The European Commission has decided on 30 March 2012 that, in light of the exceptional circumstances, solely with respect to the shortage of the refrigerant, and for a limited period of time (until December 2012), the Commission will refrain from launching infringement procedures on its own initiative or when receiving complaints regarding non-conformity of vehicles manufactured before 31 December 2012 with the approval requirements.

This course of action is subject to the following conditions:
(1) New types of vehicles will continue only to be type-approved if they are fitted with MAC systems that are compatible with Directive 2006/40/EC.
(2) As long as the refrigerant HFO-1234yf is not available, and with a definitive limitation on 31 December 2012, manufacturers may continue to use the old refrigerant (so-called 134a) to fill new type-approved production vehicles, when this is technically possible.

The problems with HFO-1234yf supply have been noticed before, but only since April this year the problem is finally addressed by EC, since more vehicles require installation of the new system according to the EU legislation.

In the mean time, European Patent Office have revoked  the Honeywell’s patent on 'Compositions containing fluorine substituted olefins'. The decision was grounded  by insufficiency and lack of novelty and inventive step following the objections from the number of opposing companies.

While these changes will solve the situation, this example illustrates the need to cooperation between the industry and policies. Hence, another legislative act, which controls emissions of F-gases - the F-Gas Regulation -is planned to be revised  soon based on the report, presenting the review of the application, effects and adequacy of the F-Gas Regulation study results. the European Commission intends to present a legislative proposal revising the current EU F-Gas Regulation in early October 2012. The new proposal plans to be discussed by industry parties on the

While he MAC Directive  prohibits the use of F-Gases with a Global Warming Potential higher than 150 in new new vehicles , the “F-gas regulation” follows 2 tracks of action: avoiding F-Gases in some applications in which more environmentally superior alternatives were already cost-effective and Improving leak-tightness of equipment containing F-Gases. A revised F-gas Regulation's provisions could potentially contribute to the accomplishment of future EU greenhouse gas emission reduction goals and be compatible with, while also implementing any potential new international commitments to reduce the production and consumption of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol.

Belongs to: Department of Energy Technology
Last changed: May 18, 2012


Title Date
Developments on the refrigerant front during the past year Jan 03, 2019
Low GWP refrigerants: previous and ongoing projects Dec 03, 2018
Environmentally friendly refrigeration systems are needed to mitigate the climate change Sep 28, 2018
Natural refrigerants in focus of the Gustav Lorentzen conference Aug 14, 2018
Research focused on safe use of combustible refrigerants Jul 11, 2018
Highlights from the conference on cold chain and refrigeration exhibition in China Apr 30, 2018
The effects of the F-Gas Regulation concern the heat pump industry Apr 30, 2018
New F-gas regulation quota is in place. Are we on track to meet it? Feb 08, 2018
This happened in refrigerant development during the past year Feb 07, 2018
F-gases: do we know what they are? Feb 07, 2018
Emissions of fluorinated gases and their emission reduction Jan 09, 2018
Ten non-flammable alternatives to R404A Aug 24, 2017
Refrigerants: current developments Aug 22, 2017
The future of R404A and other refrigerants with high GWP values as prices rise Aug 09, 2017
Refrigerants: what to expect in the future Jun 19, 2017
Standards and their role in refrigerants development Feb 07, 2017
This happened in refrigerant development during the past year Jan 27, 2017
Environmentally friendly refrigerants of the future Jan 27, 2017
An option to replace R404A in small refrigeration systems Nov 14, 2016
Highlights form the Gustav Lorentzen conference on natural fluids. Nov 13, 2016
The opportunities and challenges of R152a. Part 2. Nov 12, 2016
The opportunities and challenges of R152a. Part 1. Nov 12, 2016
Sources of refrigerant property data Mar 23, 2016
A year in low GWP refrigerants development Mar 18, 2016
Reducing environmental impact of refrigeration technology Feb 29, 2016
The potential dangers of TFA Nov 01, 2015
Key news in low GWP refrigerants developments Nov 01, 2015
HFO refrigerants explained Oct 31, 2015
Understanding refrigerant flammability Jun 23, 2015
New opportunities for R32 Jun 21, 2015
A guide to F-gas regulation guides Apr 21, 2015
In short about R1234ze Apr 21, 2015
Replacements for R404A Oct 22, 2014
R1336mzz-Z - new generation nonflammable low GWP refrigerant Sep 21, 2014
Low GWP refrigerants for high temperature heat pumps Sep 21, 2014
Safety of new low GWP refrigerants Sep 05, 2014
Can global temperature change potential replace GWP in upcoming regulations? Apr 16, 2014
Quantifying global warming potential Apr 23, 2014
New F-gas Directive, one step closer to the final decision! Feb 02, 2014
A year in new low GWP refrigerants development Feb 02, 2014
Defining “Low GWP” Nov 04, 2013
Which refrigerant replaces next R410A? Nov 03, 2013
New opportunities for natural refrigerants Oct 31, 2013
Uncertain future of fluorinated refrigerants Oct 29, 2013
European Commission’s feedback on MAC Directive implementation issues Oct 28, 2013
R-1234yf to be used in MAC systems, despite safety concerns Oct 26, 2013
Environmental metrics for evaluating refrigeration systems operation Oct 25, 2013
Low GWP alternative refrigerants in heat pumps Oct 25, 2013
Mercedes-Benz wishes to continue using the tried-and-tested R-134a refrigerant in passenger cars Sep 28, 2012
Stability and compatibility of HFOs Aug 07, 2012
Counterfeit refrigerants are on the rise Jul 16, 2012
European Commission sets new deadline: manufacturers may continue to use old refrigerants May 18, 2012
Sweden accelerates the transition towards HFC alternatives May 10, 2012
Refrigerant effect on system performance May 08, 2012
Welcome Mar 30, 2012