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Refrigerators with added value

Refrigerators with added value
New polyurethane insulation system enables even greater energy and cost efficiency.

The proportion of energy consumed by modern-day private households that can be attributed to refrigerators is considerably more than 10 percent.

Lowering this energy consumption would reduce the financial burden on the consumer and at the same time help protect the environment. This development is also being driven by stricter regulatory requirements regarding energy consumption and increased environmental awareness among consumers.

Industry is therefore working flat out to further improve the energy efficiency of refrigerators. Heat insulation is the key. Since the beginning of the 1960s, rigid polyurethane foam has proved to be the most effective insulating material. Since then, both the product and the production technology have improved continuously. Today's economical refrigerators with an energy efficiency rating of “A++” and higher are made using rigid foam in combination with vacuum insulated panels (VIPs) and highly efficient compressors, which makes production relatively expensive.

The new insulating system boasts even lower thermal conductivity than conventional foams and supports the production of refrigerators with even higher energy efficiency ratings. The improved insulation values are linked to the foam's pore size. The smaller the diameter of the pores, the lower the thermal conductivity. “In formulations containing Baytherm Microcell, the pore size can be reduced by 40 percent compared with existing technologies,” explains Dr. Reinhard Albers, an expert in technical insulation at Bayer MaterialScience. “We have thus reached an important milestone on the way to nanofoam.” The other foam properties are at equivalent to those of conventional grades. The product also exhibits excellent flow behavior and can be removed quickly from the mold.

This energy-efficient solution can benefit not only end customers and the environment. “Baytherm Microcell can also significantly increase productivity and cost-effectiveness in refrigerator production,” says Harald Wolf, head of marketing for insulating systems at Bayer MaterialScience. “Owing to its excellent insulation properties, Baytherm Microcell has the potential to partly replace other, expensive insulation technologies.” And production is possible using established foam technologies.

The new insulating system also enables refrigerators to be constructed with more spacious interiors. With Baytherm Microcell, a thinner coating in the shell of the refrigerator is sufficient to achieve the same insulation value. The advantage is obvious: consumers can protect more food against spoiling even if the refrigerator itself is small – as it is in a built-in kitchen, for example.