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Energy Efficiency Analysis for Improvement of Residential Refrigerators in Brazil

01-May-2003

Recent technological results in the field of refrigeration systems, embedded electronics, and new materials in general have been incorporated in modern household goods.  The use of these technological improvements increases consumers' comfort and creates opportunities for manufacturers in the retail market.  Nevertheless, the information technology can speed up technological innovation and contribute to reduced electricity consumption and environmental impacts associated with electricity production.  In this context, energy efficiency labels and standards for household appliances have been more widely adopted.

Until recently, energy consumption labels were used on a voluntary basis in Brazil. However, the Brazilian government has introduced legislation to introduce compulsory minimum efficiency standards, which should be mandatory in the next several years.

The main objective of this study is to provide the technical background to support the establishment of energy efficiency standards for refrigerators. The technical improvements suggested in this study were evaluated in an experimental setup available in a specialized refrigeration laboratory.

The study also considers the additional manufacturer costs for producing more efficient refrigerators, the cost for the end-user and the reduced environmental impacts due to the lower demand by power plants that burn natural gas.  The present analysis is based on Life-Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) methodology that consists of applying statistical and economic engineering approaches to analyze environmental and economic overall impacts.  Initial tests were performed to get basic information about a refrigerator with an adjusted volume of 330 liters, a popular model in the Brazilian market.  Technical variables related to the refrigeration system were monitored and recorded.

Subsequently, the energy performance of the refrigeration system was analyzed in the laboratory according to some additional innovations, namely the use of a more energy efficient compressor, a better suction line insulation and increasing the distance between the condenser and the refrigerator rear.

Authors: Edson A. Vendrusculo, Guilherme de C. Queiroz, Gilberto De Martino Jannuzzi, Nathan Mendes, Thomaz Borges, José A. Pomilio

Information from: International Energy Initiative