Refrigeration and Polyurethane Foam

Polyurethanes play an important role in keeping our food cool and insulated while it flows through the supply chain. From shipment and processing to delivery and storage, polyurethanes help keep our food cool each step of the journey. In fact, polyurethane foam is the primary insulation material in most modern day refrigerators.

High density polyurethanes to produce void free surfaces such as doors and panels. Polyurethanes are ideal for surface coating because just one application results in a near perfect finish. No further finishing is required.

Polyurethane Foam Advances Improve Efficiency

Experts estimate that refrigerators represent about 1/6th of all power consumption in a home. In fact, refrigerators are the highest energy consumption appliance in a home. Since the 1990s refrigerator efficiency has improved by more than 60% in reduced electricity use (at least in the case of Energy Star Rated models). Technology advances in design, compressor efficiency, door seals, temperature control, defrost mechanisms, and insulation (polyurethane foam and plastics) have helped drive improvements in refrigeration efficiency over the last 20 years.

Energy Consumption
According to the CECED (The European Committee of Manufacturers of Domestic Equipment), advances in polyurethane foam insulation have helped reduce refrigeration operating costs over the last twenty five years. The bar chart displays 1990 through 2005.

Retail Price + Operating Cost = True Cost

When a refrigerator is purchased and used, there are always two prices: 1-the retail price tag and 2-operating costs. Although some refrigerators have ‘cheap’ price tags they may in fact be substantially less energy efficient and more expensive to operate than other models. Depending on local electricity prices, some refrigerator models may cost an additional $300 (or more) per year in electricity than more efficient models. Over the course of ten years an inefficient refrigerator could cost a few thousand dollars.

Polyurethanes Uses in Refrigeration

Polyurethanes of varying density can be used to create both internal parts such as doors as well as insulation. The graph above estimates money saved in European households due to improved polyurethane technology use in refrigerators.

US Department of Energy Initiative

The US Department of energy currently has a $300 million dollar rebate program designed to encourage consumers to replace old inefficient appliances with newer more environmentally friendly models. The initiative is intended to help reduce greenhouse gas byproducts by decreasing energy consumption. The programs vary by state and may provide up to $100 rebates on Energy Star-rated washers, dryers, dishwashers, and refrigerators. Notably, the highest quality refrigeration units tend to use polyurethane plastics and foam for both moldings and insulation.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyurethane
http://www.green3dhome.com/YourHouse/Kitchen/Refrigerator.aspx
http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev28_2/text/fri.htm
http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/do-energy-efficient-appliances-add-up-1.aspx
http://www.americanchemistry.com/s_acc/sec_article.asp?CID=36&DID=9840

One thought on “Refrigeration and Polyurethane Foam”

  1. FAO Adam Feriante

    My name is John Marcantonio and I am working on a survey on PU for the CPI. Will you or your colleagues be at the SPFA meeting in Reno next we and could we have a talk about the market in 2010 for various PU applications by Durafoam? If not can we meet on Friday on my way back to the UK via San Francisco? Thanking you in advance.

    John Marcantonio
    Director

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