September 30, 2014

GE Wants to Try a New Refrigerant

GE is asking for federal approval to use, in the U.S., a type of refrigerant that has low global warming potential and is widely used in Europe and Asia.

The company has filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency to allow it to use isobutane, a hydrocarbon, in household refrigerators. Hydrocarbons like propane and butane have been used in fridges elsewhere in the world for years as replacements for HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) and HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons).

Although HFCs and HCFCs were originally introduced to replace chemicals that contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer, they are thousands of time more powerful than carbon dioxide in contributing to global warming. Hydrocarbons have no impact on the ozone layer and have a much smaller impact on global warming than HFCs and HCFCs.

Ben & Jerry’s recently gained permission from the EPA to test up to 2,000 ice cream cases chilled with butane, and Greenpeace, which developed the GreenFreeze technology used in hydrocarbon-based refrigerators, has been pushing companies to bring the fridges to the U.S.

If the EPA approves GE’s request, the company plans to use isobutane in a new GE Monogram refrigerator planned to launch in early 2010. GE also plans to use cyclopentane, another hydrocarbon, as the insulation foam-blowing agent in place of an HFC foam blowing agents. The development team behind the fridge also plans to seek ecomagination certification, GE’s in-house process for evaluating and labeling energy-efficient products. The company has seen success with its ecomagination line, expecting sales of ecomagination products to reach over $17 billion this year.

You can read the whole story here.

Dishwasher Power Wars-Plus a Little Advice

Here’s a fun story straight from the Wall Street Journal:

Marriage counselors say one of the biggest issues that couples fight over is money. But many of us know what’s really the most contentious battleground in the home: the dishwasher.

Except for the family dog, perhaps nothing in the house is louder or wetter, breaks more things, or causes more fights than the dishwasher. It’s just an appliance, but in many families the dishwasher becomes a stainless-steel-and-ceramic metaphor for marital power. Who loads it, how it gets loaded, how often should it be run, and when did it last get emptied – all these questions are like a fuse on a pack of TNT. One spark and there’s a conflagration.

I, of course, know that my method of loading the machine is best: Don’t rinse first, which wastes precious water and time. And silverware goes in tines and blades DOWN, thank you, so you don’t skewer yourself unloading later.

But others disagree. Tines UP, please, and always prewash.

A straw poll around the office reveals that many couples staunchly stick to the method they learned growing up. That means visiting family members who want to “help” in the kitchen can compound the problem. Woe to the well-meaning in-law who puts pot lids on the top instead of the bottom. Or worse, moves things around. Marriages have broken up over less.

One colleague says he always runs the machine immediately once it’s loaded, so no one goes in to rearrange. Another says he divides people into two categories: loaders and emptiers. He’s an emptier.

Dishwasher manufacturer Whirlpool offers some advice on its Web site: “It is not necessary to rinse the dishes before putting them into the dishwasher. The wash module removes food particles from the water.” And for silverware: “Mix items in each section of the basket with some pointing up and some down to avoid nesting. … Always load sharp items (knives, skewers, etc.) pointing down.”

But that’s not likely to end the dishwasher wars. Apologies to those of you who wash by hand (maybe you’re happier people!) but readers, do you find you fight over the dishwasher? And if so, how do you reach détente?

More Toaster Silliness

One thing I’ve always learned about kitchen appliances is that you should never anthropomorphize them.

They hate that.

International Online Toaster Museum

BoingBoing Gadgets reports:

The International Central Service’s Online Toaster Museum shows in nearly infinite nuanced zoological detail just what happens when a piece of technology reaches evolutionary perfection: innovation switches to design. I could spend hours flicking through this collection, trying to decide upon my appliance-void kitchen’s optimal toaster as a reflection of its own inherent soul.

I’m fessing up my inner geek but I think stuff like this is gorgeous.

SIEMENS SCHUCKERT nickel plated toaster

SIEMENS SCHUCKERT nickel plated toaster

http://www.toastermuseum.com/

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Ellen and the Vacuum Kid

Her Magic Bullet- Infomercials

I think infomercials are unbearably annoying, but somehow I find myself pausing on the way to my show of the moment to see the latest gadget being hawked.  Sarah Aycock at Louisiana State University has discovered that she is drawn to appliance infomercials.

You flip to your favorite channel, but instead of the familiar lineup, there’s a friendly woman reminiscent of your mother, grandmother or aunt with neatly manicured nails and a kitchen full of the same peculiar appliance.

Suddenly you find yourself sucked in to this infomercial, watching this woman make steak roll-ups, garlic bread and strawberry shortcake with ease in this magical appliance. It’s complete with dual cooking chambers and a sleek, compact design that would fit in any kitchen.

You begin to think, “Hey, I really could use this. The kitchen in my apartment is really small, and this could come in handy. I would make these breakfast sandwiches in the morning, and for dinner it would be so simple to make a stuffed chicken breast.”
 am proud to admit that I get a huge amount of pleasure from watching infomercials. Sometimes, if the infomercial is a really good one, I’ll watch it instead of regular television.

And I’m not alone. Many people share my view that infomercials are the comfort food of the television world.

When I saw that the Magic Bullet – yes, the personal, versatile countertop magician – had come out with a brand new infomercial, I rushed to call two friends, and they were both as excited as I was to find that chain-smoking Hazel and grumpy Berman, two characters from the original infomercial, had returned and were joined by Tina, who may or may not be a recovering alcoholic, and Betty, who loves garlic.

All infomercial fans seem to have their favorite genre. I’ll watch anything hawking a kitchen appliance, but many people prefer beauty products, workout equipment or music compilations.

And these fans can watch the same infomercials again and again, never purchasing a single product. Viewers keep tuning in to see the overzealous hosts, the delicious food or the compelling demonstrations. Something about the infomercials draws them in. But they can’t exactly explain why.

Some viewers eventually succumb to the pleadings of the hosts and invest in the product they’ve been secretly wanting for months. I’ve personally fallen prey twice. I am the proud owner of the Magic Bullet and the Bare Minerals makeup kit.

Kelly Ripa helps bring Electrolux Kitchen Appliances to America

Electrolux, known mostly for vacuums in the US is known in Europe for its premium appliances. This spring they are trying to make a splash here in the US with Kelly Ripa.

A Jaunt for the Weekend- A Virtual Trip to the Washing Machine Museum

If you’re looking for a museum trip without the drive, just click here to visit the Washing Machine Museum. If you want to make the trip a real, not virtual experience, the museum is located in Eaton, Colorado with tours by appointment.

The virtual tour offers glimpses of the forgotten world of early hand, gas and electric powered washers. You can see the washers with wringers that advertise themselves with phrases like “Never Crush” and “Saves Women’s Lives”. Fingers were known to be not only crushed, but severed in wringers. There is also the Horton which claims “A Horton Washer will add many years to your life. It will save your health– keep the wrinkles out of your face–keep you youthful”.horton antique washer

The site includes an article about the invention of the washing machine, options to have your own antique appraised and of course, the virtual tour.

The tour is self guided and includes outdoor views of the rural museum, two buildings filled with vintage washers, a workshop and a barn with what appears to be washers awaiting restoration.

A fun afternoon’s visit, with some history and a great feeling for how much easier laundry is now.