Michnews.com By Jerry A. Kane Thursday, September 03, 2009 - 8:36:36 PM ET
In the last three years, the UK has had at least four violent refrigerator explosions, two of them since May; and the environmentally-friendly coolant, isobutene, is the prime suspect.
In one incident, a homeowner likened the explosion to an earthquake, describing the blast as having ripped the fridge doors in half, torn a gaping hole in the home's front door, and blown out all the lower-level windows.
The problem appears to have started 15 years ago with the widespread switch to "Greenfreeze" technology and the use of isobutane and propane hydrocarbon gases as refrigerants.
Although Greenfreeze refrigerators are designed with safety features to prevent the flammable natural gas inside the pipework from leaking into the fridge, a powerful explosion is theoretically possible if the isobutane gas should happen to leak and is ignited by a spark.
"There are hundreds of millions of these fridges," stressed Jane Gartshore, president of the Institute of Refrigeration, "and these incidents are very, very rare."
Before the switch to Greenfreeze technology, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) were used as refrigerants, but enviro-conscious weenies whined incessantly about CFCs and HFCs damaging the ozone layer and contributing to global warming, so the coolants were banned.
Now, more than 300 million Greenfreeze refrigerators exist worldwide, and no one knows how many of them are "ticking-time bombs" ready to explode.
Copyright by Jerry A. Kane http://www.michnews.com/Guest_Commentary/jak9309.shtml