FRANCE: Arkema is to move ahead with industrial-scale production of the controversial refrigerant R1234yf. The French chemical manufacturer has confirmed a two-phase implementation in Asia and Europe.

In a statement, Arkema admitted that car manufacturers had not been given a sufficiently clear view on the availability and supply conditions for 1234yf and that this had limited progress to convert to the next generation refrigerant.

“With this investment, the company’s goal is to restore confidence across the automotive sector in 1234yf and takes this opportunity to assure the automotive industry that 1234yf will be available in commercial quantities to meet the phase down of R134a,” the manufacturer said. “Arkema is executing a two phase strategy based on proprietary technology: this first phase, based in Asia, is a project capable of supplying the emerging needs for 1234yf and a second phase investment in Europe with the objective to fully replace R134a after 2017.”

The Arkema statement gives scant detail of exactly where the factories will be or their planned capacity. However, Chinese market intelligence company CCM reported at the end of last year that Arkema was to build an industrial-scale R1234yf production facility in Changshu City, China, with a capacity of 7,000t/a.

If confirmed, that output would make it the largest such facility making the refrigerant which is designed to replace R134a in car air conditioning systems. Gross investment was reported by CCM to be $94.44m.

It seems likely the European facility will be at Pierre Benite, France, where Arkema currently produces laboratory-scale quantities of the gas for testing.