Refrigerators using Whirlpool’s SlimTech insulation can replace molded plastic interiors with metal.
New SlimTech insulation increases capacity, efficiency and sustainability
By Alan Wolf, YSN
Whirlpool has developed a new approach to insulation that promises to revolutionize refrigeration.
The company’s new SlimTech insulation features a proprietary material that is vacuum-sealed within the doors and/or sides of the refrigerator to dramatically reduce wall thickness and increase storage capacity and energy efficiency.
Based on vacuum insulated structure technology (VIS), SlimTech could conceivably supplant bulky polyurethane foam, which is the current insulation standard for household refrigerators.
Whirlpool said SlimTech can trim wall thickness by up to 66%, providing up to 25% more interior capacity within the same footprint. What’s more, the new insulation cools up to 30% faster than foam, which reduces temperature swings from door openings to keep food fresher longer. In addition, increasing the thickness of SlimTech insulation can further reduce thermal conductivity, boosting energy efficiency by as much as 50% and requiring fewer compressor cycles for even quieter operation.
Appearance-wise, SlimTech will allow for more interior customization via metal interiors with cleaner angles that eliminate the need for the molded plastic interiors, Whirlpool said. Longer term, the technology can lead to the development of “more discreet refrigeration spaces” that could be used in other rooms of the home and even be contained within pieces of furniture.
Whirlpool is also working on a way to reclaim the material at a refrigerator’s end of use to make them more sustainable and reduce their environmental impact.
Whirlpool Chairman/CEO Marc Bitzer described Slimtech as “a step change in technology and process innovation that will cascade across the Whirlpool Corp. brand portfolio and manufacturing operations.”
SlimTech will make its North American debut next year within the doors of select JennAir 30-inch column refrigerators before rolling out more broadly across the KitchenAid line, where it will be utilized within the entire structure. The products will be built at Whirlpool’s Ottawa, Ohio, production facility, which received a $65 million upgrade.