Anorak News | Exploding Fridges Cause Earth Cancer

Exploding Fridges Cause Earth Cancer

by | 1st, September 2009

daily-wail1621TODAY’S Media Scare Story comes, as ever, from the Daily Mail which tells readers that an “‘environmentally friendly’ fridge coolant” is causing fridges to explode. Earth Cancer!

Chris Brooke has more on the new fridge that does so much more than just keep things chilled:

Luckily no-one was hurt when Kathy Cullingworth’s fridge exploded but the damage bill was £10,000. A series of violent fridge explosions is believed to have been caused by leaks of ‘environmentally-friendly’ coolant.

Believed. While we investigate the science, Brooke says that Kathy’s entertaining fridge is one of many:

Safety standards for manufacturers might have to be reviewed following the blasts, which have destroyed several kitchens.

They might. Or else they might not. But how common is the exploding fridge, Chris?

At least four similar explosions have been reported in the last three years in the UK, two of them since May.

Four fridges in three years. At least. So how many?

The problem appears to result from a widespread switch to ‘Greenfreeze’ technology over the past 15 years and the use of isobutane and propane hydrocarbon gases as refrigerants.

Appears. Chris Brooke hits us with a scattergun volley of facts.

Previously CFCs and HFCs were used in fridges but these gases damaged the ozone layer and contributed significantly to global warming. There are now more than 300million Greenfreeze fridges around the world.

So, 300million fridges with the “environmentally friendly” coolant and four have exploded. Sorry, “at least” four.

They are designed with safety features to ensure the flammable natural gas inside the pipework cannot leak into the fridge. However, if this happens there is a risk of a powerful blast as the gas could be ignited by a spark when the thermostat switches off.

What says the expert:

Graeme Fox, an air-conditioning and refrigeration contractor, said: “During the day when the fridge door is frequently opened there isn’t a problem. But at night, when everyone is sleeping and the door remains shut, this leaked highly flammable gas can build up in the fridge cabinet.”

Why do you have to be asleep for the fridge to explode? Does the man who operates the fridge light wait until everyone is sleeping before lighting a huge refer and… kaboom!

Jane Gartshore, president of the Institute of Refrigeration, said there is a ‘theoretical possibility’ that such explosions can be caused by a leak of isobutane.

But she stressed: ‘There are hundreds of millions of these fridges and these incidents are very, very rare.’

Or are they? And is an exploding fridge worse or better for the environment than an old one that just kept things cold? Discuss.

Spotter: Bat E. Bird

Posted: 1st, September 2009 | In: Reviews Comments (3) | TrackBack | Permalink