LOUISVILLE, Ky.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--GE today takes a first step to a future where U.S. families might enjoy cleaner refrigeration in their homes, empowering citizens to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions while still earning performance benefits from a centerpiece in the U.S. home.
The announcement comes as the Company submitted information to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in connection with its request for approval to use isobutane as a refrigerant in household refrigerators. The petition was filed under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP)(a) program which evaluates alternatives to substances being phased out under the Clean Air Act for protection of the stratospheric ozone layer.
Isobutane has been widely used in household refrigerators in Europe and parts of Asia for several years. EPA approval for the use of isobutane in U.S. household refrigerators would allow, for the first time, use of a hydrocarbon refrigerant as a substitute for hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)--based refrigerants now widely used in the U.S. Using hydrocarbon refrigerants would result in a lower global-warming impact.
Upon gaining EPA approvals, GE plans to include isobutane in a new GE Monogram® brand refrigerator currently in development for introduction in early 2010. The GE Monogram refrigerator will use cyclopentane, another hydrocarbon, as the insulation foam-blowing agent to replace commonly used HFC foam blowing agents. GE will begin test marketing HFC-free GE Monogram refrigerators in select locations later this year. Conversion of the household refrigerators to hydrocarbon refrigerants will be dependent on EPA approval and favorable public policy supporting the transition, but the climate change benefits could be significant.
“The approval of isobutane under SNAP will pave the way for the use of low-GWP refrigeration technology in the U.S. to help address global warming challenges. A refrigerator with lower GWP emissions will allow consumers to reduce their carbon footprint,” said Kevin Nolan, Vice President of Technology for GE Appliances. “Our goal is to deliver a new GE Monogram refrigerator that will be ENERGY STAR qualified, and that will conform to GE and third-party safety standards for the use of hydrocarbon refrigerants, including specifically the standards that address any flammability risks associated with the use of hydrocarbon refrigerants. We plan to seek ecomagination certification, a rigorous GE process to demonstrate both operational and environmental benefits.”
According to Drusilla Hufford, Director of EPA's Stratospheric Protection Division, “EPA welcomes GE’s decision to apply for SNAP review of this hydrocarbon refrigerant for household refrigerators, which will be carefully considered by EPA both in terms of its safety and environmental attributes. The environmental gains that have already been realized in the transition from ozone-depleting substances such as CFC-12 under the Montreal Protocol have been dramatic. Should EPA reach a favorable determination on this SNAP submittal, this could be part of the next important step in the market's transition to more environmentally friendly refrigerants."
“The fridge for the 21st century must use less energy and run on refrigerants that don’t add to global warming, while meeting all safety standards,” said David Doniger, climate policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The companies that win will be those that bring these smarter, cleaner, and safer products to market, and build them here in America. GE is taking an important first step to making the use of efficient, low-GWP refrigerants a reality."
According to Mike Kello, President, Monogram Refrigeration, LLC, located in Selmer, TN, if approved by EPA, we look forward to introducing this line of GE Monogram HFC-free refrigerators. “Our vision is to move toward these hydrocarbon refrigeration technologies. We believe that with the right climate change policy initiatives these products can be part of a strategy to provide long-term environmental solutions.”
GE Consumer & Industrial spans the globe as an industry leader in major appliance, lighting and integrated industrial equipment, systems and services. Providing solutions for commercial, industrial and residential use in more than 100 countries, GE Consumer & Industrial uses innovative technologies to deliver comfort, convenience and electrical protection and control. General Electric (NYSE: GE) brings imagination to work, selling products under the Monogram®, Profile™ GE®, Hotpoint®, SmartWater™ Reveal®, and Energy Smart® consumer brands, and Entellisys® industrial brand. For more information, consumers may visit www.ge.com.
(a) The SNAP Program is EPA’s program to evaluate and regulate substitutes for the ozone-depleting chemicals that are being phased out under the stratospheric ozone protection provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA).