News Brief

New Refrigerators Could Help Planet Stay Cooler

Refrigerators sold under the Whirlpool brand and several others will incorporate the lower-climate-impact insulation.

Whirlpool Corporation

Refrigerators keep our food cold, but foam insulation that boosts their efficiency paradoxically contributes to global warming: the chemicals typically used as blowing agents to make this insulation can have global warming potential (GWP) hundreds of times that of CO2. Whirlpool Corporation will start producing refrigerators that use insulation with reduced climate impact in 2013.

Touting it as “the most environmentally responsible insulation available,” the company announced that Maytag, Amana, Jenn-Air, and KitchenAid brands will all use the newer material.

Whirlpool has partnered with Honeywell, manufacturer of the Solstice liquid blowing agent—a hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) developed specifically to address global warming concerns. Solstice has a GWP between 4.7 and 7.0 (meaning it is 4.7 to 7 times as potent as CO2), which is roughly 99% lower than the HFC-245fa in use today. Like HFC-245fa, it has zero ozone depletion potential. Honeywell and Whirlpool claim the new HFO blowing agent also offers a modest 2% improvement in the insulation’s energy performance.

Like the blowing agents they replace, HFOs break down into chemicals that persist in the environment, including trifluoroacetic acid (TFA). Despite its persistence, TFA is not known to pose a significant toxicity risk in quantities typically found in the environment.

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Whirlpool Corporation

 

Published August 20, 2012

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