Briefs: Hydrocarbon refrigerators soon in the US?

General Electric announced that it had submitted information to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in connection with a request for approval to use isobutane, a hydrocarbon, as a refrigerant in household refrigerators. The petition was filed under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) programme which evaluates alternatives to substances being phased out under the Clean Air Act for protection of the stratospheric ozone layer. Isobutane has been widely used in household refrigerators in Europe and parts of Asia for several years. EPA approval for the use of isobutane in US household refrigerators would allow, for the first time, use of a hydrocarbon refrigerant as a substitute for HFCs. Upon gaining EPA approval, GE plans to include isobutane in a new refrigerator currently in development for introduction in early 2010. The refrigerator will also use cyclopentane, another hydrocarbon, as the insulation foam-blowing agent to replace commonly used HFC foam-blowing agents.