Early Commitment to Climate-Friendly Refrigerant Pays Off

Production vehicles from two automakers featuring air-conditioning systems with the natural refrigerant CO2 have now been on the market for a year. Continental supplies the hoses and lines developed specifically for this application to both.
 

Production vehicles from two automakers featuring air-conditioning systems with the natural refrigerant CO2 have now been on the market for a year. Continental supplies the hoses and lines specifically developed for both of these, for both the intake and liquid gas side and the hot gas side. Another manufacturer is currently preparing to introduce the CO2 air-conditioning system in the mass market for future battery electric vehicles (BEVs), too – also using Continental’s hoses and lines. This is where the particular strength of CO2 comes into play: Compared with a heat pump application with F gas, the CO2 system delivers substantially higher performance at low temperatures and therefore significantly reduces the loss of range experienced by BEVs in winter.
 
CO2 has long been known as a refrigerant and in use in other applications. Under European climate conditions, it has a comparable efficiency to that of the established solutions R134a and R1234yf, but without their drawbacks, such as the relatively high greenhouse potential of fluorinated refrigerants and the high flammability and environmental harmfulness of the decomposition product trifluoroacetic acid. The natural refrigerant is also cheap. However, the air-conditioning circuit has to be adapted to the higher operating pressures that occur here. Continental brought its refrigerant lines and jointing technologies for air-conditioning systems using environment-friendly CO2 to series maturity at an early stage and invested in the corresponding plant technology. Once the basic research was complete, the experts worked on dedicated components matched to the vehicle manufacturers’ needs. Prototypes and very small production batches were initially equipped with the components for endurance testing. The experience that Continental gained during this formed the basis for the first production applications.

Continental developed the C100 polymer hose for the intake and liquid gas side, the C200 hoseline with a metal barrier lining for the hot gas side, the redesigned Contilock R flat connector and heat exchangers to increase efficiency specifically for the CO2 refrigerant circuit.