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Rathdrum ID, 83858

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Goodbye CFCs, HFCs and HCFCs
Hello organic, non-toxic, earth friendly HC blends

April 5, 2002 - Rathdrum, Idaho--Compressor and appliance manufacturers all over the world are beginning to market lines of products designed to accommodate hydrocarbon (HC) blend refrigerants. HC blends are thermally efficient, non-toxic and environmentally friendly where their synthetic counterparts are less efficient coolers, toxic to people and damaging to the environment.

HCs are the class of naturally-occurring substances that include propane, pentane and butane.

The Freon-dependent world was thrust into a dilemma in 1996 when production of the world's most commonly used refrigerant was banned in developed countries for its link to stratospheric ozone depletion. The immediate answer to the international refrigeration dilemma was to replace ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) with HFC-134a-a greenhouse gas.

It turns out that HFC-134a's potential for causing environmental damage is just the beginning of its inadequacy as a replacement for Freon. Field experience has shown it to be thermally inefficient, energy consumptive and corrosive to compressor parts. A 1998 study conducted at Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio found that HFC-134a can be deathly toxic to humans who inhale it at levels at or above 4 parts per million.

Just as the phase out of ozone depleting substances was scheduled in 1987 by an international agreement called the Montreal Protocol, the phase out of greenhouse gases was scheduled at a 1998 environmental conference in Kyoto, Japan. Though the U.S. did not sign the Kyoto Accord, nations from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Australia did. As a result, use of refrigeration systems and air conditioners that contain environmentally damaging refrigerant gases is being discouraged in many countries. In response to support from their governments and to meet demands for environmentally sound cooling and refrigeration, industry in those countries is retooling to accommodate HC blend refrigerants.

Greenpeace International, which has strongly advocated the use of HC blend refrigerants for over a decade, has compiled a list of manufacturers worldwide that are currently producing or plan to produce appliances designed to accommodate HC blend refrigerants. Unilever, Coca-Cola, DeLonghi, Matsushita, Sanyo, Bosch/Siemens and Electrolux are just a few of the most well known companies that will market product lines that use HC blend refrigerants.
"Hitachi has also announced that it will be selling hydrocarbon refrigerators in Japan in 2002, and it is expected that other major Japanese producers will follow suit in the near future," said Greenpeace.

The Greenpeace list also names numerous universities, office complexes, hospitals, supermarket chains and businesses worldwide that have converted to HC blend cooling and refrigeration.

U.S. policy with regard to refrigerants and refrigeration is lagging behind the rest of the world. This is largely due to political pressure from a variety of pro-HFC groups that are closely linked to the company that held the original patent for Freon and currently holds the patent for HFC-134a-Dupont. However, as Greenpeace observed, Japanese products are readily available to U.S. consumers and it is only a matter of time before Hitachi HC blend refrigerators are marketed in the states.

Domestically-produced, HFC-134a cooling and refrigeration systems will be forced to compete with their more efficient, organic and non-toxic HC blend import counterparts. At that time American compressor and appliance manufacturers will have little choice but to follow the environmentally responsible lead that has been taken by the international refrigeration industry.