The refrigerant R1234yf is being considered for use in air conditioning systems in cars. LMU chemists now show that, in the event of a fire, it releases the highly poisonous carbonyl fluoride, and urge that its safety be reassessed.
According to EU guidelines, the new compound R1234yf should in future be used as the refrigerant in air-conditioning systems for automobiles.
But the compound is inflammable, and LMU chemists have now shown that combustion of the cooling agent leads to the formation of the highly toxic carbonyl fluoride. “It has been known for some time now that combustion of R1234yf results in production of the toxic hydrogen fluoride.
Our analysis has now shown that 20% of the gases produced by combustion of the compound consist of the even more poisonous chemical carbonyl fluoride,” says Andreas Kornath, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at LMU Munich. He and his co-workers have just published the results of their investigation in the journal Zeitschrift für Naturforschung.
Carbonyl fluoride is structurally related to phosgene (which contains chlorine in place of fluorine), which was used as a chemical weapon during the First World War. The simplest fluoride, hydrogen fluoride (or hydrofluoric acid, HF) is also highly corrosive and so toxic that burns about as big as the palm of one’s hand can be lethal.
The agent binds avidly to calcium in body fluids, and this can result in heart failure unless an antidote is rapidly administered. Carbonyl fluoride is even more dangerous, because it penetrates the skin more easily, and causes severe irritation of the eyes, the skin and the airways. If inhaled, it can damage the alveoli in the lungs, allowing it to reach the circulation and shut down vital functions.
According to guidelines issued by the European Union, automobile manufacturers are legally obligated to use an environmentally friendly refrigerant in the air-conditioning systems installed in their cars. Use of the previously approved refrigerant R134a in new models has been forbidden in the EU since 2011, as the agent had been shown to contribute to the global warming in the atmosphere.
However, its recommended replacement R1234yf has already been the subject of much heated debate in Germany. Studies carried out by various institutions and by German auto manufacturers had pointed to the compound’s flammability, and shown that, in the event of accidents in which vehicles catch fire, combustion of R1234yf leads to the release of hydrogen fluoride.
“The risk analyses carried out by the manufacturers of the refrigerant so far have not taken carbonyl fluoride into account. In light of our results, we advise that the risks associated with R1234yf should be urgently reassessed,” Kornath adds. (Zeitschrift für Naturforschung 2014) nh
Luise Dirscherl | EurekAlert!
Tiny microbots that can clean up water
29.04.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Intelligente Systeme
Candidalysin – the first toxin of Candida albicans
29.04.2016 | Leibniz-Institut für Naturstoff-Forschung und Infektionsbiologie - Hans-Knöll-Institut (HKI)
Neutron scattering and computational modeling have revealed unique and unexpected behavior of water molecules under extreme confinement that is unmatched by any known gas, liquid or solid states.
In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory describe a new tunneling state of...
Honeycomb structures as the basic building block for industrial applications presented using holo pyramid
Researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) will introduce their latest developments in the field of bionic lightweight design at Hannover Messe from 25...
Polymer solar cells can be even cheaper and more reliable thanks to a breakthrough by scientists at Linköping University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). This work is about avoiding costly and unstable fullerenes.
Polymer solar cells can be even cheaper and more reliable thanks to a breakthrough by scientists at Linköping University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences...
As one of the leading R&D partners in the development of surface technologies and organic electronics, the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP will be exhibiting its recent achievements in vacuum coating of ultra-thin glass at SVC TechCon 2016 (Booth 846), taking place in Indianapolis / USA from May 9 – 13.
Fraunhofer FEP is an experienced partner for technological developments, known for testing the limits of new materials and for optimization of those materials...
Liquid water is a very good heat storage medium – anyone with a Thermos bottle knows that. However, as soon as water boils or freezes, its storage capacity drops precipitously. Physicists at the University of Bonn have now observed very similar behavior in a gas of light particles. Their findings can be used, for example, to produce ultra-precise thermometers. The work appears in the prestigious technical journal "Nature Communications".
Water vapor becomes liquid under 100 degrees Celsius – it condenses. Physicists speak of a phase transition. In this process, certain thermodynamic...
27.04.2016 | Event News
15.04.2016 | Event News
12.04.2016 | Event News
29.04.2016 | Life Sciences
28.04.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
28.04.2016 | Materials Sciences