|Automotive air conditioning has been around
since the 1940s. Little has changed since the first systems were developed. But in
September of 1987 the Montreal Protocol was signed between 26 nations. This agreement has
made the most significant impact on the automotive air conditioning industry to dale.
Concerned with the depletion of the upper ozone layer, the Montreal Protocol was
reevaluated in 1992. The agreement now has the support of 110 nations, which have agreed
to reduce levels of ozone depleting agents (CFC s) in 1994 and eliminate their production
by 1995. This will have a major impact on the auto air conditioning industry, which has
used CFC F-12 refrigerant almost exclusively until the 1994 model year.
The ozone layer is a part of the atmosphere, which filters out ultraviolet rays from the
sun before they reach the earth's surface. CFCs are chlorofluorocarbon gases, which attack
the upper ozone stratospheric layer located between 6-25 miles up in the atmosphere. As
CFCs drift upward ultraviolet rays break them down. This chemical process breaks down
chlorine atoms from the CFC molecules. Scientific studies indicate that a single chlorine
atom can destroy 100,000 ozone molecules. A natural process creates the ozone. This
process is being exceeded by the rapid introduction of CFCs in the environment.
122-millionpounds of R-12 (Freon) were released into the atmosphere in 1990 alone. Freon
is an ozone depleting gas, which has been used as the primary refrigerant in the
automobile's air conditioning system. The depletion of the ozone layer increases the
amount of radiation, which enters the earth's atmosphere. The effects of these increased
radiation levels will effect the delicate, natural balance of the earth's environment.
There has been significant scientific evidence of increased radiation levels in the
environment. Higher levels of radiation result in a trend of global warming, which
accelerates the melting of the polar ice caps. The sun's rays will have higher levels of
ultraviolet rays that can cause skin cancer and other radiation poisoning.
There are approximately 140-million vehicles in the U.S. with CFC R-12 air conditioning
systems. The automotive industry estimates 60-100 million potential customers between 1995
and the year 2000
ABOVE, the new
R134a retrofit kit includes receiver drier, service ports, ester oil and auxiliary
will upgrade their existing air conditioning systems to a new compound HFC R-134a, which
is a non-ozone depleting substance.
The average retail upgrade cost for most late model vehicles will be from $200-$800
depending on the year and make of the car. This staggering figure will result in an
S20-$60 billion transition (retrofit) process in the United States alone.
Standard auto A/C condenser has an inlet tube at the top, through tubes top to bottom,
dissipating heat and turning the gas into liquid.
BELOW, The parallel flow condenser was developed for converting from R-12 to
R-134a. The principle is similar to a radiator.