The latest insulation innovation for refrigeration promises to reduce wall thickness, increase capacity, maximize energy efficiency, lessen noise, and raise the possibilities for aesthetics.
SlimTech by the Whirlpool Corporation offers an alternative to the traditional polyurethane foam insulation, which has been the most popular choice in refrigerators since the mid-80s, though first used in the 60s. This new technology represents the first vacuum-insulated structure for refrigerators in the North American market, says Whirlpool officials.
SlimTech uses its vacuum insulation with a thin layer of compressed powder sealed inside steel. The company will debut its SlimTech insulation technology first through its luxury JennAir brand’s 30-inch column refrigerators, then release the feature in its KitchenAid brand.
Refrigerator walls using SlimTech can be 66% thinner (about 2 centimeters compared to five centimeters), allowing for 25% more interior capacity (from 17 cubic feet to more than 21 cubic feet), and 50% more energy efficient. SlimTech also keeps food fresh for longer.
The insulation performance allows for cooling up to 30% faster than polyurethane fridges, so when doors open and temperatures swing, SlimTech brings temperatures back down faster.
“For years, low recyclability due to polyurethane foam has created a significant barrier to making refrigerators more sustainable and reducing environmental impact,” said Pamela Klyn, Whirlpool Corporation’s executive vice president of corporate relations and sustainability, in the official news release. “This is an extremely important leap forward on the journey to a more circular approach to home appliances. Implementation of SlimTech insulation marks the beginning of the end for foam insulated refrigerators.”
Aesthetically, Whirlpool says SlimTech opens the door for higher-end looks and customization. The insulation removes the need for molded plastic interiors typically found in today’s refrigerators. Instead, SlimTech features metal interiors.
The design also promises to quiet down fridges as it lessens the compression cycles needed to maintain cool temperatures due to its enhanced insulating properties.
The new look of fridges also means more possibilities for what the appliance can be. Whirlpool says SlimTech allows for more discreet refrigeration so that fridges can be “seamlessly” brought into other rooms of the house, or even contained within pieces of furniture.
“SlimTech insulation technology—along with other recent product launches—shows our commitment to innovation and will allow us to expand our market share and our margins,” Marc Bitzer, Whirlpool Corporation chairman and CEO, in the official release. “This is a step change in technology and process innovation that will cascade across the Whirlpool Corporation brand portfolio and manufacturing operations.”
Does anyone believe that seal won't be broken over a 20 year lifespan? Just wait till some movers get hold of it.