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Inventory and mitigation opportunities for HFC-134a emissions from nonprofessional automotive service
Abstract - Many vehicle owners in the United States recharge their vehicles' air conditioning systems with small containers of hydrofluorocarbon-134a (HFC-134a, CH2FCF3), at a frequency estimated to be once every year on average. Such nonprofessional service produces immediate emissions of this potent greenhouse gas during service and from the residual heel in partially used containers. The nonprofessional operations are also associated with increased delayed refrigerant emissions that occur because owners are less likely to repair leaks than professional technicians. In California, an estimated 1.3 million nonprofessional service operations performed each year generate 0.27 ± 0.07 million metric ton CO2 equivalent (MMTCO2e) of immediate emissions and 0.54 ± 0.08 MMTCO2e of delayed emissions, using a Global Warming Potential of 1300 for HFC-134a. The immediate emissions can be largely mitigated by a regulation that requires self-sealing valves and improved labeling instructions on the containers, a deposit-return-recycling program for the containers, and a consumer education program. If 95% of the used containers were to be returned by consumers for recycling of the container heel, the annual immediate emissions would be reduced by 0.26 ± 0.07 MMTCO2e. In the United States, an estimated 24 million nonprofessional service operations are performed each year, generating 5.1 ± 1.4 MMTCO2e of immediate emissions and 10.4 ± 1.5 MMTCO2e of delayed emissions. Mitigation measures equivalent to the California regulation would reduce nationwide immediate emissions by 4.9 ± 1.4 MMTCO2e, if 95% of the used cans were returned for recycling. These business-as-usual emissions and mitigation potentials are projected to stay approximately constant until around 2022, and remain at significant levels into the 2030s.
Zhan, T., W. Potts, J. F. Collins, & J. Austin (2014) Inventory and mitigation opportunities for HFC-134a emissions from nonprofessional automotive service, ATMOSPHERIC ENVIRONMENT 99:17-23.