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Matsushita Launches Japan's First HC Refrigerator

November 8, 2001 - Osaka, Japan-based Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., best known for its Panasonic and National brand products, today announced the launch of NR-C32EP, the first refrigerator in Japan to use hydrocarbon (HC) refrigerant eliminating use of CFC (chlorofluorocarbon), HFC (hydrofluorocarbon), and HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbon). The new model, NR-C32EP will be introduced to the Japanese market on Feb. 1, 2002, at the suggested retail price of ¥140,000 (U.S. $1,159.40). An initial monthly production of 2,000 units is planned.

Matsushita says its group companies have been putting priority on preservation of the global environment, stepping up initiatives to manufacture earth-friendly products. Matsushita Refrigeration Company, a subsidiary of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., has devised a new hydrocarbon refrigerant (R600a) cooling system, which led to the development of the hydrocarbon refrigerator. Furthermore, the company adds that it also significantly reduced the amount of materials potentially harmful to the environment utilized in this model, such as lead (reduced by 85 percent) and vinyl chloride (cut by 95 percent).

To help minimize global warming, Matsushita has been using cyclopentane for insulation since 1995. However, after COP 3* issued warnings about HFC, or R134a, demand for refrigerators that have less impact on global warming has grown.

According to the company, development of NR-C32EP was a result of the following three new technologies:

(1) Highly-efficient cooling system that enables the model to operate on less refrigerants in terms of volume. This achievement is attributed to the development of a compact size accumulator and optimization of condenser volume.
(2) Highly-efficient compressors for handling hydrocarbon refrigerants. Compressors for hydrocarbon refrigerants have just recently been developed for the Japanese market. Matsushita's new compressor achieves a 5% increase in efficiency over current models of the same type.
(3) A double-cylinder glass radiant defrosting heater for hydrocarbon refrigerants. For safety purposes, double-cylinder glass is used so that the surface temperature will be below 360°C, a hundred degrees less than the refrigerant ignition point. Also, the cylinder's resistance to flexing is nearly three times greater than that of conventional radiant heaters.

To assure product reliability and safety, Matsushita says it has been working with Hitachi, Ltd. on environmental preservation technologies, as part of a general agreement that was announced in May this year. "The development of this safe, reliable and environmentally-sound product, therefore, has been made possible as a result of this joint endeavor," the company said in a statement.

In addition, the company says the new refrigerator meets recently-established product safety regulations introduced by The Japan Electrical Manufacturers' Association (JEMA).

The above appeared in Appliance Magazine.com