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GE plans HFC-free refrigerator

GE has announced plans for a refrigerator with a lower environmental impact, with its HFC-free GE Monogram.

The Monogram Side-By-Side Refrigerator: Saving the world, one hydrofluorocarbon at a time.

Refrigerators are a necessary part of today's kitchen, but with them comes a whole list of environmental concerns. Some have hydrofluorocarbons for insulation; HFCs were supposed to be an eco-friendly alternative to chlorofluorocarbons (which are known for their ozone-destroying effects), but turned out not to be so great for the environment, either. But GE is bringing an HFC-free fridge to the market this year.

The new version of the GE Monogram will use cyclopentane in place of HFCs. It's another hydrocarbon, but is less of a pollutant. Unlike many other hydrocarbons, cyclopentane also has a reduced risk of flammability. The new GE Monogram will have all of the features associated with the line, as well as the new insulation.

GE is also testing isobutane for use in refrigerators: it's a refrigerant that is used extensively in European and Asian refrigerators, but was only recently approved by the EPA for use in the U.S. GE hopes to replace the hydrochlorofluorocarbon-based refrigerants now common in the U.S. The resulting appliance would have far lower emissions. Isobutane is also being tested for use in the Monogram line of refrigerators and is expected to be on sale in early 2010.

Both changes to GE's Monogram line will not only make the company's appliances more environmentally-friendly, but are also expected to improve energy use.