Environmental Profiles of Stirling-Cooled and Cascade-Cooled Ultra-Low Temperature Freezers
The environmental footprint of ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers as used in bio-repositories, universities and other research organizations is investigated. These freezers, employing the cascade refrigeration system, use between 10 and 20 times the energy of an average household refrigerator/freezer. In addition, they often require high greenhouse gas potential (GWP) refrigerants. A new technology employing the Stirling cycle machine promises to reduce energy consumption of ULT freezers by 50% or more. The cascade and Stirling systems are compared for equivalent sized freezers in terms of embodied energy and equivalent CO 2 production from cradle to gate and use, including total equivalent warming impact (TEWI) estimations. End-of-life issues are discussed but not quantified. It is shown that Stirling technology is able to significantly reduce the environmental impact of ULT freezers.
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