Developments to Watch
NOW, AN ICEBOX THAT'S COOL FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
How do you make an environmentally friendly refrigerator? The Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI) in Golden, Colo., has developed a new insulating technology, called compact vacuum insulation, or CVI, that should make possible smaller, lighter, more energy-efficient appliances.
CVI panels consist of two thin pieces of tin-plated steel whose edges are hermetically welded together. Constructed in a vacuum chamber or evacuated after manufacture, the panels have an internal array of supports that prevent them from collapsing. A 1/10-inch thick CVI panel has the same thermal resistance as a piece of foam insulation more than an inch thick (an R value of 11). And CVI is not just limited to the kitchen. It can be used in refrigerated trucks, mobile homes, cars, and hot or cold pipelines. Science Applications International Corp. in San Diego has signed a license to develop CVI for commercial use.EDITED BY WILLIAM D. MARBACH