Honeywell Geismar, Loisiana

Honeywell marked the commercial startup of a $300 million plant that makes a next-generation auto air conditioning refrigerant that could sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Honeywell marked the commercial startup Tuesday of a $300 million plant that makes a next-generation auto air conditioning refrigerant that could sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"From the invention of the Solstice molecule to the development of this world-scale manufacturing facility, we have created something that will change the industry …. Global adoption of this refrigerant will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of permanently removing more than 30 million cars from the road," said Honeywell President and Chief Executive Officer Rajeev Gautam.

More than 20 million autos use Honeywell's new refrigerant, and that number is expected to pass 40 million by the end of 2017, Gautam said.

Gautam spoke at a ceremony for the new plant. Representatives of U.S., European and Asian car manufacturers attended the event.

The Geismar facility is the largest manufacturer of HFO-1234yf, sold commercially as Solstice yf. The product has a global-warming-potential of less than 1, which is lower than carbon dioxide, Gautam said. It's also 99.9 percent lower than the most common auto refrigerant R-134a, a hydrofluorocarbon that contributes to global warming. 

The finding has been confirmed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the international body for assessing the science related to climate change, which was established by the United Nations. A number of governments and industries have been looking to phase out R-134A since the early 2000s.

Honeywell has spent more than a decade developing alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons. The company has invested $915 million in its Louisiana facilities in the past four years, including the Baton Rouge plant that makes the Solstice line of aerosol propellants and foam insulation.

Honeywell's Geismar operations increased its workforce by 55 jobs, or more than 20 percent, paying an average of $86,000, according to Louisiana Economic Development. Building the plant required nearly 1,400 construction workers. 

Geismar is now one of Honeywell’s most advanced production sites and will showcase some of the company’s own process and automation technologies, Gautam said.

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