GE just announced a big improvement in what it uses to make 16-, 17-, and 18-cubic-foot top-freezer refrigerators in Decatur, Alabama.  After retrofitting its existing plant (to keep jobs in the states), GE swapped out HFC-134a as a foam-blowing agent in favor of using cyclopentane, a blowing agent with significantly less global warming potential.

Cyclopentane, which is used to blow insulation into the doors and cases of the appliance – will reduce the facility’s GHG emissions from the foam-blowing process by 99 percent compared to the agent it replaces.

In addition, the switch is expected to reduce overall GHG emissions at this plant by 80%, according to GE.  The plant will save roughly 400,000 metric tons of CO2-equivalent annually, the same amount of emissions released by 78,000 cars on U.S. roads in one year.

Other than GHG emissions, GE claims the new blowing agent will result in more energy-efficient refrigerators.  “The new foam is 4% better,” said Paul Surowiec, general manger for refrigeration at GE, as quoted in the NY Times.

In short, this news means GE will be able to offer a US-made fridge with a smaller environmental impact and better overall energy performance.

Credit: GE Appliances & Lighting.