070907073807f128GERMANY: Eberhard Günther, the man behind the production of the first hydrocarbon fridges, has died unexpectedly at the age of 70.

Günther was the md of the East German company FORON which partnered with environmental group Greenpeace to produce the first Greenfreeze refrigerators in 1992.

Using isobutane for the refrigerant and cyclopentane for blowing the insulation foam, the Greenfreeze refrigerator was a revolutionary concept and met with strong opposition from traditionalists within the refrigeration industry which had largely adopted R134a as the substitute for CFCs.

Within three weeks of its launch, and against the odds, Greenpeace amassed 70,000 sales contracts in Germany, proving a demand for environmentally safe refrigerators.

On 15 March 1993 the first Greenfreeze refrigerators rolled off the FORON assembly lines. Within a year, the technology spread throughout Germany and to other European countries. The same year, Greenpeace introduced Greenfreeze technology to China and Japan.

“The performance of Eberhard Günther and his former company FORON was an entrepreneurial and courageous pioneering effort,” said Dr Heinrich Bottermann, general secretary of the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU).

Günther’s efforts were recognised in 1993 when he was named as the winner of the DBU’s inaugural German Environmental Award.