The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended that hydrofluoroolefin (HFO-1234yf) be considered an acceptable substitute for chlorofluorocarbon “CFC-12” (also known as R-12 or Freon-12) in vehicle air-conditioning systems. Manufacturers of the substance would first need to take steps to prevent leakage issues, which could raise flammability concerns.
Use of the chemical would be limited to new vehicles until the EPA was satisfied that flammability could be adequately addressed with respect to retrofit equipment.
The EPA’s action is part of the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program, which determines acceptable substitutes for ozone-depleting substances such as Freon and other CFCs. The EPA is also seeking to address the global warming potential (GWP) of these chemicals. HFO-1234yf has about four times the GWP potential of carbon dioxide, but is still far below CFC-12, which has a GWP of 10,890.