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Commercial Application of Polyurethane Insulation Using HFO Blowing Agent

August 3, 2014

Whirlpool Corp., the world’s largest producer of major appliances, has begun the first commercial use of a polyurethane refrigerator insulation system with a HFO (hydrofluoroolefin) blowing agent. The polyurethane is a new formulation of BASF’s Elastocool rigid foam. It is used with Honeywell’s Solstice liquid blowing agent (LBA), an HFO with an ultra-low global warming potential (GWP) of 1. Traditionally used hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have GWPs between 700 and 1000.

Whirlpool is using the new insulation system in a line of consumer refrigerators. It is the first time that this type of system has replaced a traditional HFC-based foam blowing agent in residential appliances. The new Elastocool/Solstice insulation system is designed to provide several advantages, including improved shelf life stability of materials, and that gives Whirlpool plants increased operational flexibility. The system gives the Whirlpool refrigerator a 2-3% overall increase in energy efficiency, due to its better insulating properties. It provides better foam distribution during production, for more consistent and uniform energy efficiency. The system also offers reduced de-mold time during production, which the appliance maker can leverage to reduce cycle times and improve plant throughput. However, Honeywell, the Whirlpool supplier, believes its LBA offers better energy efficiency improvement than cyclopentane. It points to a trial conducted Whirlpool, in which 600-liter residential refrigerators and freezers using an optimized Solstice LBA showed significantly better energy efficiency improvement than did cyclopentane.


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