Refrigerator Manufacturers To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

EPA and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) have launched a new, voluntarily program to reduce hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) emissions from the coolant and insulation used in making new refrigerators and freezers, officials announced on Jan. 12.

Once implemented, the program will significantly reduce HFC emissions in the manufacturing of 12 million refrigerator-freezers in the United States and more than 60 million worldwide each year, according to the agency.

HFCs are used in refrigerators and freezers in two ways -- as the "working fluid" refrigerant and as a "blowing agent" for the insulation foam within the cabinet walls. HFCs have become widely used as substitutes for chlorofluorocarbons and other ozone-depleting chemicals that have been phased out. While HFCs do not harm the stratospheric ozone layer, when released to the atmosphere, they are potent greenhouse gases -- up to 1,300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

The new program recommends specific strategies for reducing emissions during all stages of production of household refrigerators and freezers including delivery, storage, and transfer of refrigerants and blowing agents, as well as factory piping, blending operations, calibration of foam blowing equipment, foam injection and refrigerant system charging, testing, and refrigerant recovery. Due to the increasing cost of refrigerants and blowing agents, there is a strong incentive for manufacturers to minimize emissions and waste.

For more information on the new initiative, visit http://www.epa.gov/ozone.

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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