ARB Research Seminar

This page updated June 19, 2013

Emissions of HFC-134a in Auto Dismantling and Recycling

Emily Wimberger, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Davis

September 15, 2010
Cal EPA Headquarters, 1001 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA

Research Project


The United States Environmental Protection Agency has a regulation that requires the recovery of vehicle refrigerant, including HFC-134a, a potent greenhouse gas, from End of Life Vehicles (ELVs). This analysis estimates the amount of HFC-134a remaining in the air-conditioning units of California's population of ELVs, or vehicles that have been issued a junk title or salvage certificate, to determine the magnitude of potential benefit from enforcing the federal regulation.

To determine the amount of HFC-134a in ELVs, refrigerant samples were taken from 2,002 vehicles on dismantler lots through out California from January 2008 through August 2009. An average of 27% of refrigerant capacity was remaining in the air-conditioning systems of the sampled vehicles. To extrapolate the sample findings, California's ELV population was estimated using California Department of Motor Vehicle registration records and vehicle smog check histories. From 2005 through 2007, there were 1,020,938 ELVs containing HFC-134a, an average of 340,313 a year. Within this framework, the analysis shows that in 2007 there were 59,146 kg of HFC-134a on licensed vehicle dismantler lots in California, an amount that will grow to 68, 566 kg of HFC-134a by year 2012.

Speaker Biography

Emily Wimberger, Ph.D., Candidate, is finishing her doctorate in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis. Ms. Wimberger is currently working on her dissertation that focuses on the California Smog Check program and its effects of vehicles in different stages of their drivable lives as well as the market structure of smog check stations. Ms. Wimberger's research interests are in natural resource economics, including air quality and water salinity, and economics of industrial organization within the State of California. Ms. Wimberger received her MS from the University of California Davis in 2002 and a BS in Energy, Environmental, and Mineral Economics from The Pennsylvania State University in 2001.

For a complete listing of the ARB Research Seminars and the related documentation
for the seminars please view the Main Seminars web page