ARC’s current research activities are related primarily to the disposition of polyurethane foam blowing agents used in refrigerator-freezer insulation. Since some of the blowing agents have a high global warming potential, it is important to know how much of the blowing agent is emitted to the atmosphere when units are decommissioned, and what happens to the remaining blowing agent that is buried in a land fill.
In conjunction with EPA and the Alliance for the Polyurethanes Industry (API), ARC has conducted several studies on blowing agent emissions when refrigerators are shredded at end of life. Prior to 1993, almost all refrigerators used CFC-11 as the blowing agent in the polyurethane foam. However, CFC-11 has been phased out due to its depleting effect on the ozone layer after release to the atmosphere. Nonetheless, large quantities of CFC-11, referred to as “banks”, still reside in appliances, and in polyurethane insulation used in other applications (e.g., buildings). Therefore, it is important to determine what happens to the CFC-11 when the insulation is disposed of, so that the effects of these banked inventories can be assessed.
A summary of a recent project related to blowing agent emissions is available by clicking here.
Click here for “Recommended Practices for Minimizing HFC Emissions from Refrigerator-Freezer Factories.” This document was developed and endorsed by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).