Honeywell invests $300m in green refrigerant


US chemical company Honeywell is to make a $300 million (£184 million) investment in manufacturing capacity for a new type of refrigerant with impressive environmental credentials.

The focal point for the investment will be a new manufacturing plant at Geismar in Louisiana, US, which will be operational in 2016 and make HFO-1234yf. Honeywell says that HFO-1234yf has a global warming potential (GWP) that is 99% lower than HFC-134a, the current industry standard. GWP is measure of how much heat a gas traps in the atmosphere relative to carbon dioxide.

‘Demand for HFO-1234yf is increasing around the world in response to concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and the need to comply with the Mobile Air Conditioning (MAC) Directive in Europe and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations in the US,’ said Andreas Kramvis, head of the performance materials and technologies division at Honeywell.

Car makers are embracing HFO-1234yf for air-conditioning units as a result of EU legislation requiring all new vehicles sold in the EU after 1 January 2017 to use only refrigerants with GWPs below 150.

But the gas has a controversial history in the chemical industry. Honeywell and DuPont own most of the relevant patents, and in 2011 the EU opened an investigation focusing on whether the two companies were breaking competition rules by unfairly witholding manufacturing licences.


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