Green Aluminium Tubes for the Automotive Industry

Danfoss A/S and Hydro have established a joint venture to develop a new generation of aluminium tubes for use in automotive air-conditioning systems that are more environmentally friendly than today's AC systems.

Piflex is the name of the new joint venture between Danfoss A/S and Hydro Alunova, a Hydro subsidiary based in Denmark. The company was formally established on March 15.

The joint venture expects to use two-to-three years in developing high-performance flexible aluminium tubes for air-conditioning equipment in cars. Today’s air-conditioning systems use the refrigerant 134A, however, it is expected that this gas will be replaced in the coming years by carbon dioxide (CO2), which is more environmentally friendly, but which also operates at a higher pressure. As a consequence, the rubber hoses used in current air-conditioning systems will have to be replaced by another material.

The flexible aluminium tubes developed by Piflex will be able to handle the higher pressure – as much as four times as great – that CO2 systems demand.

Danfoss president and CEO Jørgen M. Clausen is pleased with the joint venture, stating that each of the South Jutland-based companies have the appropriate market positions and proprietary know-how necessary to create a breakthrough product.

"We are excited about starting this collaboration to develop a sustainable product for the automotive industry, especially with the new EU legislation which prescribes the use of CO2 in air-conditioning equipment," says Clausen.

The cooperation started when Hydro – the global market leader in the delivery of aluminium tubing for heat exchangers – contacted Danfoss to see if they would be interested in sharing expertise and entering this field.

"It is a great pleasure for us to work together with such a major company in the area. Danfoss has the competence that we need to succeed with our idea. Our joint resources can create successful future business," says Jan-Arne Rønningen, who heads Hydro Aluminium Precision Tubing.

Managing director Hugo F. Ravesloot of Hydro Aluminium Precision Tubing in Tønder, Denmark, says the venture "offers Hydro Aluminium a good opportunity to create something together with an important local partner. We have a strong concept and, together, we can put a focus on the manufacturing capabilities in Denmark, while creating new jobs in South Jutland. It is fantastic to have the opportunity to invest in an original idea like this one."

Piflex will test several different processes in its preliminary work, as the venture works toward bringing its first products to market by 2007. Two patents have already been registered in connection with the development of the flexible aluminium tubes.

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