SAE to Work with Industry and Government to Create Efficient, Environmentally Sound Automotive Refrigerant System

Warrendale, PA, June 30, 2004 -- The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) announced a Cooperative Research Program that will work with the industry and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and administer a new project to address improved R134a refrigerant systems for mobile air conditioning systems.

This project, named the "Improved R134a Project" (IRCRP), will build on previous studies and assess technologies that can take R134a refrigerant to the next level of performance and efficiency, while avoiding costs associated with carbon dioxide (CO2) systems. The project objectives will be to identify technologies to reduce atmospheric leakage by 50% and improve system efficiency by 30%. The project will assess cost versus benefits of the above objectives while investigating potential passenger compartment load reduction strategies.

The IRCRP is expected to start in the third quarter of 2004 and continue through 2006. It is to be funded by both in-kind industry contributions - such as parts/vehicles/testing time/expertise/people resources - as well as through industry participation fees. These fees will support independent lab testing and other direct expenses. It is anticipated the U.S. EPA will also provide funding resources.

It is anticipated the project will be organized with two teams, one to address emissions and one to address efficiency. The emissions team will include experts from tier 1 and 2 automotive suppliers, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) members, refrigerant suppliers, and hose coupling and fitting suppliers. The Efficiency team will include OEMs, tier 1 suppliers, and auto interior suppliers.

The results of this project will include SAE J-Standards on R134a system components leakage procedures and methods, SAE J-Standards on Measurement and Testing of HVAC energy/power consumption/efficiency, and consensus ranking of cost vs. benefits of the various technologies. The project will also result in demonstration of new technologies with laboratory results as well as in demonstration vehicles.

An initial discussion of the IRCRP project will take place this week during the SAE Alternate Refrigerant Systems Symposium in Scottsdale, AZ.

For more information on the technical aspects of the IRCRP please contact Ward Atkinson (602-956-9313, wast@ix.netcom.com). For information on the administration of the project please contact Gary Pollak, SAE staff (724 772-7196, gary@sae.org). Media contact, Steve Yaeger (724) 772-4068. syaeger@sae.org.