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EPA approves new air conditioning refrigerant

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced final approval of HFO-1234yf, a new, "greener" air conditioning refrigerant for vehicles.

Automotive air conditioning of the future will not be the environmental blight it has been in the past. The EPA on Monday announced it has approved the refrigerant HFO-1234yf for use in vehicles.

Designed by Honeywell and DuPont, HFO-1234yf has a global warming potential that is 99.7 percent less than the current chemical (HFC-134a) used in most car air conditioners.

General Motors last summer announced it planned to use HFO-1234yf in 2013 models pending final approval.

GM will be joined by other automakers eligible to receive greenhouse-gas emission credits for 2012-2016 models by adopting eco-friendly refrigerant, thanks to new laws passed last year.

Over the next few years, HFO-1234yf will become the new standard for U.S. automakers; the refrigerant has also been approved for use in Europe and Japan. The change will be better for the environment, the EPA said.

Prior to the use of HFC-134a, car air conditioners generally used CFC-12, which the EPA calls "a potent greenhouse gas and ozone-depleting substance."

"This new chemical helps fight climate change and ozone depletion," said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. "It is homegrown innovative solutions like this that save lives and strengthen our economy."