The retrofitting of hydrocarbon or other highly flammable refrigerants into automotive air-conditioning systems in some countries including Australia, combined with the global issue of counterfeit refrigerants that may or may not be what is stated on the packaging, has caused a confusing environment for technicians.
For this reason, Unicla publishes special procedure charts to help manage potential refrigerant cocktails and insists that refrigerant identifiers be used by its distribution and service network.
The procedure charts, free to download at the end of this article and made available to all Unicla agents and authorised workshops in the field, are highly graphical and easy-to-navigate, with a minimum of text.
Reflecting the different requirements covering recovery and recycling of refrigerants in each region, the charts have been designed to fit across all global platforms. Above all, the charts reflect Unicla’s responsible position covering safety and environmental work practices.
The requirement for all Unicla authorised workshops to test all incoming vehicles with an identifier is the cornerstone of effectively tackling the fact that automotive air-conditioning systems are not guaranteed to contain the refrigerant they left the factory with.
Aside from hydrocarbons and fake refrigerants, Unicla workshops have noted increased incidences of air contamination in systems brought in for service or repair. This could be caused by system leaks, air being mixed into refrigerant stocks through workshop lines being inadequately purged or through incorrect evacuation procedures.
The Unicla charts contain service flow steps that outline each possible decision and the potential consequences at each service point.
For example, when hydrocarbon refrigerants are identified in a system, the only safe and risk-averse action for most technicians is to release this mixture in an open space away from the workshop.
This procedure has been endorsed by guidelines published in Australia that was commissioned by Refrigerant Reclaim Australia and endorsed by Australasia’s peak automotive air-conditioning industry body, VASA, of which Unicla is a member.
The guidelines make it clear that the deliberate indoor venting of any flammable refrigerant is not recommended as a safe practice.
Such venting must be carried out in a well-ventilated outdoor location, with an exclusion zone of at least 3 metres radius.