Whirlpool using new insulation at Amana refrigerator plant

New insulation will not increase the cost of a refrigerator or freezer, officials said

George Ford
Published: January 22 2014 | 1:51 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 2:30 am in

A new type of foam insulation in use at Whirlpool's Amana Division plant is producing refrigerators and freezers that are more energy efficient and will dramatically slash ozone-depleting greenhouse gases.

Honeywell Solstice Liquid Blowing Agent has a global warming potential that is 99.9 percent less than 245fa, the most commonly used foam blowing agent used within the appliance industry. Whirlpool is replacing 245fa with the Honeywell product, which produces a more uniform insulation within the doors and walls of a refrigerator.

The new insulation, which has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has a global warming potential of 1 -- the same as carbon dioxide.

Joseph Liotine, president of Whirlpool's U.S. operations, said the conversion of the company's U.S. manufacturing facilities to Honeywell Solstice is scheduled for completion by the end of this year.

"The impact to the global warming effect will be the equivalent of removing more than 400,000 cars from the road," Liotine said Wednesday at the Amana plant. "This is the first use of the innovative Solstice Liquid Blowing Agent in home appliances.

"By introducing this new insulation to our refrigerators, we've taken steps to reduce global warming potential, the most significant contributor to environmental impact for refrigerators without compromising quality or energy efficiency."

Andreas Kramvis, president and CEO of Honeywell Performance Materials and Technologies, noted that the two companies have a 25-year partnership. Kramvis said that relationship made it possible to co- develop the use of the new product for initial introduction at Whirlpool's Amana plant.

Tim White, plant lead for the Amana operations, said use of the new insulation began with testing in November and is being integrated gradually across the company's refrigerator and freezer product lines. The plant employs about 2,300 and recently added a shift that increased employment.

Liotine said the new insulation will not increase the cost of a refrigerator or freezer.

Ron Voglewede, business lead for Whirlpool's global product sustainability team, said the Honeywell Solstice insulation is a two-part mixture and was integrated without the need for new machinery or extensive capital investment.

"We were able to keep the costs down by not having to change how the process works," Voglewede said."It was really a drop-in solution that uses the existing infrastructure."

The Amana plant produces about 4,500 refrigerators per day, using a combination of automation and manual assembly. The plant tests a percentage of those products each day to assure that everything is working properly.

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