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Australian truckers have been warned of safety concerns regarding the use of hydrocarbon refrigerants in vehicle air conditioning systems

AUSTRALIA: The Australian Trucking Association has warned of the safety risk associated with the use of cheap, hydrocarbon-based refrigerant gases.

The warning follows a meeting of the ATA’s Industry Technical Council (ITC).

ATA senior adviser – engineering, Chris Loose, said the cheaper gas could lead to disaster when used in vehicle air conditioning systems.

“Vehicle air-conditioning and refrigeration systems are designed to use specialised automotive refrigerant gases. These manufacturer-endorsed products have a low fire risk, and newer products have been formulated to have a reduced environmental footprint,” Mr Loose said.   

“However, some after-market repairers will ‘re-gas’ refrigeration systems using cheaper, hydrocarbon-based refrigerant gases, often sold as M30. These hydrocarbon gases are highly flammable, and pose a significant safety risk in these systems. In one case, an Australian heavy vehicle driver suffered burns after the re-gassed air-conditioning system in his truck ignited.

“To our knowledge, no heavy vehicle in Australia has ever been designed to use these gases. Vehicle owners using these businesses may not even be informed that their system is being re-gassed using M30 rather than the recommended refrigerants.

“No matter the cost saving, these gases are not worth the risk,” he says.

The warning follows calls last year for a ban on the use of hydrocarbon retrofits by VASA, the body representing vehicle air conditioning specialists in Australasia.

The ITC has recommended that operators exercise caution with cut-price re-gassing services, and ensure that all air-conditioning and refrigeration systems in their fleet use the manufacturer’s recommended refrigerant gas product.

The ATA Industry Technical Council aims to improve trucking equipment, truck maintenance and maintenance management by sharing ideas with experts from all areas of the trucking industry.

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