• By transitioning to cyclopentane, GE’s Decatur, Ala., plant will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than 400,000 metric tons of CO2-equivalent annually. This is equal to the annual emissions of 78,000 cars on U.S. roads.
  • The transition to cyclopentane will reduce foam insulation-related emissions in Decatur by 99 percent.
DECATUR, Ala., April 28, 2011 — (NYSE: GE)  GE Appliances & Lighting is leading the way as the first full-line appliance manufacturer in the U.S. to adopt a foam-blowing agent, known as cyclopentane, that significantly reduces the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the insulating process in the manufacturing of its top-freezer refrigerators in Decatur, Ala. Using cyclopentane – a foam-blowing agent used to propel insulation into the doors and cases of refrigerators  will reduce the facility’s GHG emissions from the foam-blowing process by 99 percent compared to the foam-blowing agent it replaces.1
“GE Appliances & Lighting is looking at every aspect of environmental stewardship for our appliances — from manufacturing processes to more responsible product end-of-life management,” said Paul Surowiec, general manager, refrigeration, GE Appliances & Lighting. “We also offer hundreds of ENERGY STAR®-qualified models to ensure our appliances deliver efficiency and cost savings to consumers throughout the appliance’s life.”
Benefit equivalent to CO2 of 78,000 cars
By transitioning to cyclopentane as the foam-insulating agent for GE’s 16-, 17- and 18-cubic-foot top-freezer refrigerators this April, GE’s Decatur, Ala., plant will reduce GHG emissions from the foam-insulating process by more than 400,000 metric tons of CO2-equivalent annually. This is equal to:
  • The annual emissions of 78,000 cars on U.S. roads.2
  • The annual CO2 absorbed by more than 100,000 acres of southeastern U.S. forest3  an area equivalent to nearly seven Manhattan islands.4
This reduction from replacing the previous foam-insulating agent5 with cyclopentane is so significant that GE will actually reduce the GHG emissions of the entire Decatur manufacturing facility by more than 80 percent. And, compared to the insulator it replaces,6 initial tests indicate cyclopentane also increases the efficiency of the insulating foam, yielding energy efficiency improvements and cost savings for consumers.
“GE’s commitment to develop and deploy solutions for today’s environmental challenges is a top priority,” Surowiec said. “GE’s transition to cyclopentane as a foam-blowing agent for top-freezer refrigerators is another great step forward in the spirit of our company’s ecomaginationsm initiative.”
GE creates jobs
GE’s investments in more sustainable manufacturing are helping to create U.S. jobs, and the transition to cyclopentane and other product developments are expected to create 25 new jobs in Decatur. GE announced last October plans to invest a total of $59 million in the Decatur manufacturing facility to create a Center of Excellence for top-freezer refrigerators and more sustainable manufacturing. This total investment will help retain more than 1,000 jobs.
Applauding the efforts of Decatur’s employees, Plant Manager Tom Rossi added, “This could not have happened without the complete dedication of our manufacturing employees and engineers here in Decatur. Making the transition happen has been a full-time job for many of us since last July, and I certainly appreciate the dedication that has enabled GE to become the first full-line appliance manufacturer in the U.S. to use cyclopentane in refrigerators.”
By 2014, GE will offer the highest percentage of U.S.-made refrigerators among full-line appliance makers, thanks to investments at GE’s U.S. refrigeration plants.
Making ecomagination a bigger part of GE
GE expects a significant reduction of the GHG emissions it produces by converting other U.S. refrigeration manufacturing facilities to cyclopentane within the next few years. GE plans to convert the refrigeration insulating manufacturing process at its side-by-side Center of Excellence in Bloomington, Ind., and its bottom-freezer refrigerator Center of Excellence in Louisville, Ky., to cyclopentane by 2014.
Additionally, GE Appliances is commited to ENERGY STAR appliances. GE also announced in February that it is the first appliance manufacturer to partner with the Environmental Protection Agency on its Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) program, with a focus on refrigeration recycling best practices.
Download broadcast-quality footage of manufacturing facility and interviews with cyclopentane experts.
1. Cyclopentane replaces HFC 134a.
2. Assuming the average rate of CO2 emissions per U.S. passenger car is 5.11 MT CO2 per year. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Emission Facts: Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle.
3. Average rate of CO2 sequestration by U.S. forest equals 3.7 MT of CO2 per acre per year. Source: U.S. EPA Climate Protection Partnerships Division - Unit Conversions, Emissions Factors, and Other Reference Data (2004).
4. According to the U.S. Census, Manhattan is approximately 23 square miles (land only): http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36/3651003.html. One square mile is equal to 640 acres, meaning Manhattan island is approximately 14,720 acres: http://www.metric-conversions.org/area/square-miles-to-acres.htm. Calculation: 100,000/14,720 is equal to 6.8.
5. HFC-134a
6. HFC-134a