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Will Oil-Free Compressor Revolutionize Fridge Energy Consumption?
Sep 16, 2010
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Fisher & Paykel Appliances and compressor supplier Embraco unveiled an oil-free refrigerator compressor technology that F&P calls "revolutionary" for its significantly improved (up to 30%) energy efficiency, as well as its benefits to refrigerator design and temperature control.

The technology resulted from a joint development agreement between F&P Appliances, based in New Zealand, and Brazilian refrigeration systems supplier Embraco. Embraco is owned by appliance OEM Whirlpool Corp.

F&P said, in a news release, that it developed the compressor design concept and technology and worked closely with Embraco in recent years to fine tune the compressor.

A near-simultaneous news release from Embraco said it had developed the new technology under the agreement with F&P - and with Whirlpool Corp.

Regardless of who developed the technology, it will now scheduled for field trials, followed by mass production. F&P said it has licensed the technology exclusively to Embraco.

"This new compressor delivers a leap forward in energy efficiency that has previously been unachievable in conventional compressors used in the majority of today’s refrigerators," said Stuart Broadhurst, F&P Appliances managing director and CEO.

The F&P Appliances team said in a statement that it believes this innovation will lead the refrigeration industry in coming years

Embraco described the design of the compressor as a combination of linear technology and variable capacity.

Current compressors contain oil and so must remain upright. Being oil-free, the new compressor allows more flexibility in its installation and positioning. Broadhurst estimated the shape of the compressor would allow for about 15 liters of extra interior space, which is enough for an extra fruit and vegetable compartment.

F&P, which is headquartered in New Zealand, said the project was dubbed the "Britten" internally, following an address by well-known New Zealand inventor John Britten as part of the company’s internal leadership program.

“Britten’s philosophy resonated with our engineering team. Like John Britten, our new compressor challenges conventional thinking and approaches to energy use and design,” said Broadhurst.

F&P also received New Zealand support for the project, including a research and development grant from Tech New Zealand.

Embraco said the compressor came about as a result of five years research and development investments of US$20 million, and said the technology holds 44 patent applications and grants.

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