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SAE Research Program Explores Mobile Cooling Options for Emission Reduction and Energy Efficiency

WARRENDALE, PA,, Jan. 10, 2005 - The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has established the Improved Mobile Air Conditioning Cooperative Research Program ("I-MAC" CRP) with the goal of identifying advanced cooling technologies that can support the continued use of HFC134a refrigerant in automobiles and other vehicles. These technologies would reduce refrigerant leakage and provide greater system energy efficiency at a favorable cost-benefit ratio to all stakeholders.

"SAE and the automotive industry are moving quickly to meet the tremendous global challenge of further reducing vehicle emissions including those associated with mobile air conditioning systems," says Ward Atkinson, chairman of the Interior Climate Control Standards Committee for SAE. "The engineering and other technical experts participating in the SAE I-MAC program are currently exploring alternative mobile air conditioning design options that can continue the use of HFC134a refrigerant in an environmentally responsible manner."

In exploring the spectrum of mobile cooling technologies for use with HFC134a refrigerant, the SAE I-MAC research teams will seek to identify advanced systems and components that can:

  • Reduce direct system refrigerant leakage by at least 50 percent
  • Improve system efficiency by at least 30 percent
  • Reduce system cooling loads by at least 30 percent
  • Reduce service refrigerant losses by at least 50 percent.

"We'll be evaluating the most advanced mobile cooling technologies currently available and comparing them to assess their ability to offer significant gains in environmental and consumer benefits, at optimal cost," says Fred Sciance of General Motors, chairman of I-MAC.

The estimated cost for the two-year project is $3 million. Funds for this project have been contributed by vehicle manufacturers, tier 1 and 2 suppliers, and others associated with this industry. As with prior SAE research activities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also a key player in the program.

Currently, more than 80 representatives are involved in the four sub-teams of the cooperative SAE I-MAC research program from vehicle manufacturers, tier 1, tier 2 suppliers, governmental agencies and academia.

Sciance notes that the additional fuel/energy required to run a vehicle's total AC system mass — the system's electrical requirements for controls and airflow, and energy to drive the compressor — results in the release of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions over the life of the vehicle. Furthermore, any accidental leakage or release of refrigerant such as HFC134a into the atmosphere during vehicle operation, service or disposal can be converted to equivalent carbon dioxide emissions. Some scientists say that such emissions contribute to higher levels of "greenhouse gases" that may affect global warming.

The SAE I-MAC cooperative research study is the newest of many programs that the Society has developed to elevate mobile technology standards and generate meaningful benefits for consumers. SAE recently completed a three-year Alternate Refrigerant Cooperative Research Program (ARCRP) covering alternate refrigerant technologies for mobile air conditioning applications. In addition to the Cooperative Research work above, the SAE Interior Climate Control Standards Committee has recently approved several new standards associated with alternate refrigerant technologies for mobile air conditioning application.

SAE, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2005, is America's foremost non-profit technical association for developing technology standards for the on- and off-highway vehicle industries. The Society serves as the official U.S. representative on automotive standards to the International Standards Organization (ISO), and also works closely with the International Federation of Automotive Engineering Societies (FISITA) to develop and encourage adherence to global mobility standards.

For more information on the Society of Automotive Engineers, please call SAE World headquarters at (724) 776-4841 or visit the SAE Web site at

SAE is a non-profit engineering and scientific organization dedicated to the advancement of mobility technology to better serve humanity. Nearly 85,000 engineers and scientists who are SAE members develop technical information on all forms of self-propelled vehicles, including automobiles, aircraft, aerospace craft, trucks, buses, marine, rail and transit machinery. This information is disseminated through SAE meetings, books, electronic products and databases, technical papers, standards, reports, and professional development programs.