GE Plastics has expanded its ecomagination* product portfolio with a new patent-pending, high-performance Lexan* polycarbonate (PC) film that can prevent condensation on the doors of refrigerated and frozen food glass door cases without the need to heat the glass. Crystal-clear Lexan Constant Clear film, featuring a proprietary anti-fog coating, adheres to glass doors to help prevent formation of condensation when the cases are opened by shoppers. Not only does Lexan Constant Clear film enhance the shopping experience by preventing fogging that can obscure product offerings, but it also delivers significant energy savings. By avoiding the need to heat glass doors, reducing the frequency of door openings to view products, lowering compressor loads required to compensate for heated doors - and based on the national average energy cost of $0.0942/KW-hr (according to www.eia.doe.gov) - this new film can save up to $90 per door, per year on ice cream and low temperature doors and $30 per door, per year on medium temperature doors.
A typical store with 130 doors consisting of 60 percent low-temperature doors, 20 percent medium-temperature doors, and 20 percent ice cream doors can expect to save approximately $10,000 a year if Lexan Constant Clear film is applied and door heating is turned off.
Saving on energy costs is one reason why Farm Fresh, a high-end supermarket chain in Virginia owned by SUPERVALU, is rolling out GE’s Lexan Constant Clear film. After an 18-month test of 10 frozen food glass door case doors in a Virginia Beach Farm Fresh, Farm Fresh’s director of Energy and Maintenance, Jon Perry, saw a drop of approximately 50 percent in energy expenditures for door heating. “By disconnecting the anti-fog heaters on these doors and using the GE film instead, we cut amperage from 5.2 to 2.4 for a four door frozen food glass door case,” he reported. “Also, the film reduces the load on our compressors. They don’t have to work so hard to remove the heat produced by the anti-fog system, which is on 100 percent of the time. We estimate energy savings of 10 to 30 percent for our compressors.”
Perry anticipates other benefits from the GE film, including reduced costs and time required to install door heaters in new stores, and the ability to expand an existing store without adding more compressors. Plus there is the potential sales advantage of an attractive, clear frozen food glass door case door, which can make products easier to see and purchase. “In the summer, our heated doors fog up in 15 or 20 seconds after opening – or even when an adjacent door is opened – and then take a couple of minutes to clear,” Perry said. “But the doors with GE’s Lexan film do not fog up – it’s a very dramatic difference.”
Lexan Constant Clear film is mar-resistant and can be cleaned easily using standard products. With its adhesive backing, it is also easy to install. The film can help maintain the integrity of the glass and prevent spalling if the internal pane of glass is broken. Further, by printing on the coated side of the film, stores or manufacturers can add branding and advertising to display cases.
“After 18 months, we have not seen any degradation of the film,” Perry stated. The company has installed Lexan Constant Clear film in four Virginia Beach stores – each with about 120 frozen food glass door case doors – and plans to expand to other locations. In addition, GE Plastics is trialing the material in cases and full stores at more than 20 of the largest U.S. supermarket chains and seven international chains.
“Fogged display cases are frustrating for shoppers and costly for merchants who must pay for extra cooling when consumers stand in front of an open door to check out the ice cream,” said Mike Laurin, product manager for Film, GE Plastics, Specialty Film & Sheet and co-inventor of Lexan Constant Clear film. “Stores were forced to choose between the cost of heating display case doors or using standard anti-fog coatings that scratch easily and require special cleaning procedures. Our durable anti-fog Lexan film is a great solution for the customer and the store.”