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GE's Isobutane Refrigerator Awaits EPA Ruling
Sep 23, 2010
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GE is awaiting a final rule from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its request for approval to use isobutane as a refrigerant in household refrigerators.

GE plans to include isobutane in a new GE Monogram-brand 30-inch refrigerator currently in development for introduction in early 2011. The refrigerator will use cyclopentane, another hydrocarbon, as the insulation foam-blowing agent to replace HFC foam-blowing agents. However, the product can only proceed to market if it gets EPA approval.

"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,” said Kevin Nolan, vice president of technology for GE Appliances.

GE Appliances & Lighting originally filed a petition under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program, which evaluates alternatives to substances being phased out under the Clean Air Act for protection of the stratospheric ozone layer. In response, EPA has issued a proposed rule approving isobutane for use in household refrigerators, subject to certain use conditions.

Isobutane is already widely used in household refrigerators in Europe and parts of Asia. EPA approval for the U.S. would allow the first use of a hydrocarbon refrigerant as a substitute for the hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-based refrigerants that are now widely used in the U.S.

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