German firms get ahead with "atmosphere-friendly" fridges

Major German domestic refrigerator manufacturers have taken even environmentalists by surprise by announcing new models which bypass all the CFC substitutes now being touted by fluorocarbon producers in favour of hydrocarbon mixtures. All the companies plan to export to the UK, posing a potentially serious threat to domestic producers who have done little to explore the new technology.

The announcements by European household names such as Bosch and Siemens coincided with the start-up of the first commercial-scale production of a hydrocarbon-based domestic refrigerator by the small east German manufacturer Foron, of Scharfenstein, whose technology was initially ridiculed by the same large firms.

The developments in Germany will have alarmed chemical companies such as ICI, which is hoping to compensate for the loss of its

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