Safety Procedures

safety-handling-solstice-yf
General Information
The industry has created standards to govern the safe use and construction of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning components (HVAC) in the USA (SAE J639) and in Europe (ISO 13043) to inter alia ensure the safe use of refrigerants. This was achieved in close cooperation with government agencies and approval authorities so that the vehicles of tomorrow are as safe as, or safer than the cars of today. To date, there have been no documented car accidents connected to the use of the refrigerant Solstice yf.

In more than 20 years of use, there have been no reported accidents, in which the old refrigerant HFC-134a caused any harm for car occupants. Fluorocarbon refrigerants have been used safely in automobiles for six decades, and there is no reason to believe Solstice yf will be any different.
Fluorocarbons such as HFC-134a and Solstice yf are alike in the sense that that they can emit small quantities of hydrofluoric acid (HF) and carbonyl-di-fluoride (COF2) when they combust. SAE research demonstrated these quantities are well below thresholds that would affect human health and that, again, there is no significant risk caused by using Solstice yf.

  • HF may form when hydrofluorocarbons come into contact with very hot surfaces (700°C) or catch fire under even higher temperatures. This applies to all hydrofluorocarbons, including the refrigerants used safely in mobile air-conditioning systems for 60 years. The resulting concentration of HF is very low. During firefighting HF will quickly dissolve within the extinguishing water.
  • COF2 is a known breakdown product of HFO-1234yf and has been extensively examined. Its formation only lasts for a fraction of a second, and is therefore not endangering potential bystanders, passengers or first responders. Should it come into contact with moisture, it immediately converts into HF and CO2.

Recommended procedure and equipment of professional rescue forces
Should professional rescue forces face the fire of vehicles using Solstice yf, it is recommended that emergency staff and professional rescue workers observe and practice their training when responding to car fires. This also applies in the event of a fire in a tunnel or an underground car park as these are special structures that must already meet stringent safety requirements.
The use of Solstice yf does not entail any changes concerning the requirements of professional rescue forces’ protective clothing. As such the same protection requirements as for HFC-134a, a self-contained breathing apparatus and protective suit, does apply.

Information for voluntary (non-professional) first responders
The amount of HF generated in a car fire is dependent on many variables. The Gradient report (Table 2-5, page 40, SAE final report) explains that HF concentration is dependent on many mitigating variables such as wind, rain, charge size and the release point of the refrigerant. The expected concentrations are on the same order of magnitude as those currently produced by R-134a. HF can only be formed when in contact with surfaces at very high temperatures or when combusting. HF, by itself, is an extremely repulsive gas that a person cannot tolerate even in concentrations below the AEGL-2 level. This will drive well-intentioned bystanders away from the vehicles involved in a crash. This effect does not distinguish Solstice yf from other substances used in the past, such as HFC-134a. Bystanders will likely show the same behaviour and reaction as during a car fire with HFC-134a.