Hydrocarbon refrigerants manufacturer, HyChill Australia, recently announced that the ‘OKA’ vehicle manufacturer has elected to use hydrocarbon refrigerants in its production line.
OKA constitutes the first vehicle OEM in the world to use hydrocarbon refrigerants.

Despite the recent announcement, OKA has enjoyed using HyChill’s hydrocarbons for around four years. Furthermore, an entire line of European-built AVIA trucks, distributed by Reymer Pty Ltd, the parent company of OKA Australia, is set to go on sale shortly and will also benefit from HyChill refrigerants.
John Clark from HyChill Australia, commented, “This is an Australian made natural hydrocarbon refrigerant being adopted by an Australian motor vehicle design and manufacturing company providing a solution which is proven safe, provides world-beating cost and performance characteristics, and sets new standards in minimising the environmental footprint of automotive air conditioning,”

Andy Granger, Reymer Pty Ltd’s Head of Marketing and Business Development explained the benefits of HyChill. He remarked, “Compared to fluorinated gas alternatives, the vastly increased chilling performance of HyChill Minus 30EC refrigerant has many advantages for a commercial vehicle manufacturer.
For example, we are confronted with increasing levels of heat rejection from engines – an unfortunate side effect of making engines more emissions friendly. The engine and cooling system are directly below the driver’s cab so ultimately some of that heat ends up soaking into the cab structure – the increased performance of HyChill more than compensates.

Furthermore, the addition of emissions control systems means that we have less space in which to package chassis and cab equipment; using HyChill Minus 30 EC, we can gain performance points without having to increase evaporator or compressor size,$quot; concluded Granger.

John Clark described the innovation as, “a huge breakthrough for hydrocarbon refrigerants in the automotive air conditioning sector”.
He continued, “In the early 90’s, vested interests ran ridiculous ‘bombs in kitchens’ campaigns, trying to keep the refrigerator industry from seeing the sense in using hydrocarbons. Such campaigns can be very effective at misinforming and scaring people off – for a time. In the refrigerator case, Greenpeace had to go into business selling ‘Greenfreeze’ hydrocarbon based fridges in order for the rest of that industry to finally recognise how seriously they had been misguided.

Today, 35% - 40% of the world’s domestic fridges are ‘Greenfreeze’ hydrocarbon fridges and that share is increasing. Unfortunately, similar campaigns were repeatedly employed in vehicle air conditioning circles since the mid 90’s, with similar success until now. However, this announcement by HyChill and OKA demonstrates that awareness and acknowledgement of the real-world evidence that hydrocarbons are both safe and superior in vehicle air conditioning is approaching ‘critical mass’.”

But why the wait?
OKA has enjoyed a four year relationship using HyChill’s hydrocarbon refrigerants, so why is the firm only publicising it now? Clark explained, “Both OKA and HyChill agreed it was best kept quiet for at least a few years…So we decided to wait until we had years of safe use in an OEM context already under our belt, as this limits the options opponents of hydrocarbons have in their likely attempts to discredit or downplay this achievement.”

Looking ahead
Clark is hopeful that this news will trigger further interest in hydrocarbon refrigeration. He stated, “OKA’s selection of hydrocarbons ought to trigger a fresh approach from vehicle manufacturers and policy makers. While we don’t expect major US or European car makers to be knocking on our door any time soon, more innovative and open minded manufacturers should take note of this opportunity to sidestep poor historical choices of others that currently hold the industry back.

Right from the beginning the suitability of hydrocarbons in car air conditioning was overlooked based on misinformation. We hope that this announcement is the trigger for a more objective reassessment.”