Fisher & Paykel Appliances – Design for a Changing World
Fronting up to the large climate change challenges facing us is critical – as individuals, communities, companies, countries and ultimately the planet. Additionally accepting that we can’t meaningfully solve these problems alone is also critical. As part of Fisher & Paykel (F&P) Appliances commitment to de-carbonisation, it has established a Carbon Zero Smart Home R&D Institute to connect and partner with people and teams around NZ and the world who can help us with technology and innovations to make the step changes we need.
In 2022 F&P Appliances with the help of the NZ Product Accelerator (NZPA) reached out to the New Zealand R&D ecosystem, looking to identify research capability that was aligned with the vision of the Carbon Zero Smart Home R&D Institute and the first Research Challenge focused on making a step change in thermal insulation performance.
An outcome of that process, was to start a project with GNS Science, an NZPA partner, at the beginning of 2023 that now has several streams of work underway. These streams of work are investigating the fundamentals of reducing heat-transfer, and the application of those fundamentals to temperature-controlled appliances with significantly reduced energy consumption and carbon footprint. This project has confirmed funding of $700,000 + for year one and an expectation that this will be an ongoing multiyear project.
Of significance for F&P Appliances is the way the engagement is being approached. With the help of the NZPA, the program of work is utilising a combination of GNS as the lead organisation, utilising GNS in-house expertise, F&P Appliances application knowledge & business context, post-doctoral teams, PhD, Masters and undergraduate students. While the team has a firm eye on the fundamental science looking for step changes (most likely with a longer timeframe), the team also has the other eye on applying our learning as we go; the essential combination of generating short-term value while aiming at medium- & longer-term breakthroughs.
While insulation performance is very important to FPA, there is no shortage of other problems on their de-carbonisation journey that require research to drive innovative solutions. With that in mind, we would like the NZ R&D ecosystem to know that we will be sending out requests for proposals for new research challenges in the future, but we also welcome hearing from anyone who has small- or large-scale ideas about how we can fundamentally decarbonise NZ and the world’s homes.