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High-Tech Appliance Insulation by Alex Wilson Last month in this column I discussed the new restrictions on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and how they might affect the way we insulate our houses and appliances. This month, we'll look at one technology being pursued as an alternative to CFC-blown rigid insulations for appliances: vacuum panels. Anyone who has enjoyed a hot cup of coffee from a thermos bottle, can appreciate the ability of a vacuum to insulate. By reducing the number of air molecules in the evacuated space, conduction of heat from one molecule to another is greatly reduced. The same principal can be applied to panels used in insulating refrigerators, freezers, and water heaters. Two approaches to vacuum panel insulation are currently receiving most of the attention: