GE officially opened its new refrigerator plant yesterday, and also unveiled the first appliance models to come out of the new plant. The new bottom-mount, French-door refrigerators offer a number of features making them environmentally friendly as well as offering some user-convenience innovations.
As ApplianceMagazine.com reported, GE yesterday held events to officially open a new refrigerator manufacturing facility at its Appliance Park manufacturing campus in Louisville, KY. It was the second plant opened at Appliance Park in two months; prior to this year, there had not been a new plant in the park in more than 50 years.
Starting in 2009, GE began making significant investments (more than $1 billion) in its appliance plants in the United States, intent on bringing manufacturing of high-tech, highly energy efficient appliances back into the United States. All the new plants are scheduled to be online in 2014, resulting in about 1300 new U.S. jobs.
One of the steps GE took to make refrigerators more environmentally friendly was to design new models to use cyclopentane as the blowing agent in foam insulation. The new refrigerators announced on March 20 will be the first bottom-mount appliances in the U.S. to use this type of insulation, although cyclopentane has long been used successfully in appliances outside the United States. Using this type of insulation reduces greenhouse gas emissions during manufacturing and at the end of the product's life cycle, when it is disassembled and recycled.
The new models also exceed U.S. Energy Star standards.
Some models will also include GE's Brillion connected home technology. When coupled with a GE Nucleus controller, the fridge's intelligence enables a consumer to receive maintenance and service alerts, monitor energy consumption, and adjust some appliance settings remotely.
The fridge also offers a second icemaker in the freezer and a space-saving icemaker in the door.
A hand-free autofill feature on GE Profile models means that users don't have to stand and wait while a container is filled. Ultrasonic sensors and proximity detectors - designed to work similar to those used to fill up fuel tanks in locomotives - control the filling of containers by the fridge.
A PreciseFill feature can also be used to dispense filtered water in accurate measurements for food and drink preparation.
29-cubic-foot GE Cafe models will also dispense hot water - a U.S. refrigerator first - giving users a quick way to make oatmeal, tea, or baby formula. Users can chose the desired temperature; the unit heats 12 ounces of water in two minutes.
The model also offers an advanced filtration system that is designed to be the first to remove harmful pharmaceuticals from water and ice. Specifically, the filter was shown to remove 98% of five trace pharmaceuticals, if they are present in the water supply: ibuprofen, atenolol, fluoxetine, progesterone, and trimethoprim.
The new GE Profile refrigerators will be offered at retail starting in June 2012; GE Cafe models will be available in the fourth quarter of 2012. Retail prices will range from $1,699 to $2,999.
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