DuPont refrigerant expert receives U.S. EPA Climate Protection Award for role in creating a program to reduce auto air conditioning climate emissions
Martin Drigotas, DuPont
Automotive Refrigerants manager, was recently awarded the U.S. EPA Climate Protection Award for his role as a founder of the
Improved Mobile Air Conditioning Cooperative Research Program (IMAC).
Launched in April 2004, the IMAC research program is an ambitious
collaborative effort to deliver dramatic increases in the energy efficiency
and substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from the operation of
motor vehicle air conditioning (A/C) systems.
The partnership goal is to reduce fuel consumption from the operation of
vehicle A/C by at least 30 percent and refrigerant emissions by 50 percent. Air conditioning in vehicles has direct emissions of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC)
refrigerants that are greenhouse gases and indirect tailpipe emissions from
the additional fuel that is burned to power the cooling.
All vehicles currently use a refrigerant called HFC-134a, which is
included in the gases scheduled for control under the Kyoto Protocol.
European manufacturers and governments support new regulations that will phase
out HFC-134a for vehicles after about 2012, but it is not yet clear whether
replacement technology will better protect the climate. This project will
improve the existing HFC-134a technology, raising the bar that competing
technology will need to clear in order to capture markets in North America,
Asia, and elsewhere.
Over 55 global partners from industry, universities, government research
laboratories, environmental advocacy groups and regulatory agencies are
participating in the IMAC program.
Founding members of IMAC include: Drigotas; Dr. Stephen O. Anderson,
project director for the U.S. EPA; Ward Atkinson of Sun Test Engineering;
William Hill, General Motors A/C Integration Engineer; and Elvis Hoffpauir,
president and chief operating officer of the Mobile Air Conditioning Society.
Drigotas, 57, is a 36-year veteran of DuPont.
"This improved air conditioning technology can be applied in the next
decade to over 300 million vehicles worldwide while industry develops even
better revolutionary technology for next-generation hybrids and fuel cell
vehicles," said Dr. Stephen O. Andersen, project director for the U.S. EPA. "The global vehicle industry and their
customers will save $4 to $5 billion if we can immediately improve HFC-134a
systems to reliably reduce refrigerant emissions and use significantly less
energy than the proposed alternative systems."
According to the U.S. EPA, the combination of fuel savings and reduced
refrigerant emissions would save over 35 billion kilograms (77 billion pounds)
of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions annually. This improved system could
save the consumer over $420 in auto repair costs over the life of the vehicle.
This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.