Israeli insulation keeps Whirlpool fridges frigid

The BIRD Foundation makes a match between Hanita Coatings and American appliance giant

Workers at the Hanita Coatings facility in northern Israel (Photo credit: Courtesy)
Workers at the Hanita Coatings facility in northern Israel (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Israel’s Hanita Coatings plans to provide insulating materials for refrigerators made by the Whirlpool Corporation. The deal was announced on Tuesday. Whirlpool is the world’s leading manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances, with annual sales of approximately $18 billion in 2012. The cooperation is made possible thanks to an investment by the US-Israel Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation, which supports industrial research and development that benefits both Israel and the United States.

Hanita is a leading producer of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) films for vacuum insulation panels (VIPs), a form of advanced thermal insulation technology that is up to seven times more effective than conventional plastic foams or fibrous insulation. VIPs consist of a membrane wall, an internal core of rigid, porous material such as silica or fiberglass, and chemicals to maintain a vacuum inside the panel. A layer of PET laminate is added to the outside of the membrane in order to protect the VIP and reduce the escape of heat or cold that the VIP is supposed to protect.

PET is also used in food packaging. Some scientists believe that the material can break down over time and release a toxin called DEHA into food or water. The PET laminate produced for VIPs is stronger and less permeable than the PET films produced for food packaging and is unlikely to come into contact with food, as the VIPs are inside the walls of the refrigerator, Hanita Coatings said. Tests that simulate extended protection of VIPs show that Hanita Coatings’ PET films “can keep their insulation performance inside refrigerator walls for well over 100 years, and for more than 40 years when used as building insulation in a standard north European climate,” according to the company.

Hanita Coatings, headquartered in Kibbutz Hanita in northern Israel, has produced coated, laminated and metalized films since 1982 for industrial and commercial applications, including in the electronics and insulation industries. As a kibbutz company, many of Hanita’s 180 employees own shares in the business, which “makes our level of commitment and will to succeed exceptional,” the company said.

BIRD brings promising Israeli technology to the attention of American companies and helps fund joint research projects between the parties. “Hanita Coatings, as the foremost supplier of ultra-high barrier filmic laminates to the vacuum insulation panel industry, was a natural partner for appliance manufacturer Whirlpool in its quest to develop highly efficient, space-saving insulation for refrigerators,” a BIRD representative said.

“We’re convinced that this collaboration will provide an efficient and cost-effective way to reduce appliance energy consumption,” said Oved Shapira, Hanita’s CEO. “The BIRD Foundation has provided Hanita with an exceptional opportunity to develop insulation solutions hand in hand with the leading player in a global market.”

Watch below for a demonstration of Hanita Coatings’ Security Tint:

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