Update: GE’s Megan Robison has responded with the statement “The foam is no more a risk to consumers in their homes than 134a” so we presume GE must have European statistics on fire incidence, mortality and injury separated by white goods foam type and blowing agent. Otherwise how could they make such a statement?
In fairness I’ve pinned this post to the front page so everyone will immediately see when GE proves me wrong – or if they do. Since this data must already be in hand it’s reasonable leaving this post pinned until what, first posting Monday, May 9? It only took a day for Megan to respond the first time so the working week should be plenty of time, surely.
Alright GE, as Wilbur allegedly said to his brother on that fateful day at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903: “Let ‘er rip, Orville!” – you show us how appliances containing a foam of flammable/explosive cyclopentane offers a zero risk-increment over those filled with non-flammable, non-toxic gases.
Given GE’s absurd scaremongering over matters environmental, particularly gorebull warbling – and their highly magnified risk sensitivity – I can’t wait to see how they go about demonstrating the safety of placing highly flammable and explosive gas-filled appliance cabinets in people’s homes. :End update
Text as first posted: So, to avoid a problem that doesn’t really exist in the wild, we banned non-flammable, non-explosive and really useful CFCs. Now, to avoid contributing to another problem which exists only in PlayStation® climatology and fevered imaginations we are to replace the replacement gases – with something flammable and explosive!
I’m sure firefighters will be thrilled with the changeover from fire-suppressing CFCs through fire-retarding HFCs to downright explosive cyclopentane, turning people’s white goods into domestic incendiaries and explosives.
I guess all it takes is “ecomagination”, eh?
When Refrigerators Warm the Planet
By MATTHEW L. WALD
The kitchen refrigerator is an obvious contributor to global warming because it usually sucks in electricity that was made by burning fossil fuels. But it turns out that the refrigerator does harm to the environment before it is even plugged in because the insulating foam in its innards is made with a gas that is more than 1,000 times worse, molecule for molecule, than carbon dioxide.
Now, however, manufacturers are seizing on a single change can reduce both warming mechanisms at once. General Electric said Tuesday that it had become the first American manufacturer of a full line of refrigerators to take that step, which is to eliminate a gas called HFC 134a, a so-called blowing agent.
The blowing agent is used to whip the foam into a frothy milkshake-like mix and move it into the doors and walls of their machines, where it hardens. Unlike the styrofoam in a disposable coffee cup, the material in appliances is filled with bubbles.
Manufacturers once used chlorofluorocarbons, known as CFCs, for that job. When such gas is used, it flows into the atmosphere, either immediately or years later when the machine is junked and the tiny bubbles escape. But CFCs were banned because they accumulated in the upper atmosphere and the chlorine would break down molecules of ozone, which shield the Earth’s surface from harmful rays of the sun. (Green, NYT)