ORNL’s Pradeep Bansal examines an Embraco linear compressor, which will be used in a Whirlpool-ORNL project aimed at building a more energy-efficient refrigerator

USA: The US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory is working with Whirlpool to design a domestic refrigerator that could cut energy use by up to 40%.

A number of novel technologies and materials are being looked at but key to the co-operative research and development agreement is the use of Embraco’s Wisemotion liner compressor.

In the 1970s, the average US refrigerator used approximately 4-5kWh per day. While today’s models average about 1.5kWh/day, ORNL and Whirlpool are attempting to build a refrigerator that consumes less than 1kWh per day.

The team will redesign a refrigerator to incorporate the linear compressor, which reduces energy losses by continuously matching the compressor pumping rate to the refrigerator’s cooling requirements. Associated components will provide additional efficiency gains.

Together, these features could cut refrigerator energy use by an estimated 40%, or cut around $26 per year from the average consumer’s electricity bill.

The project will make use of the Building Technologies Research & Integration Center (BTRIC) user facility at ORNL, including resources at the Maximum Building Energy Efficiency Research Laboratory (MAXLAB).

The three-year project is supported by the Buildings Technologies Office in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

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