After 17 years of top-secret product development, Fisher & Paykel Appliances today unveiled what it says is a major "step change" in refrigeration technology.
Stuart Broadhurst, chief executive of F&P Appliances, says its new compressor technology could become as important to refrigeration as the electric car engine is to the automotive industry.
The new technology has the potential to save consumers up to 30 per cent on refrigerator power use.
"A 30 improvement in energy efficiency is unheard of," says Broadhurst. "In most households, the refrigerator is one of the larger appliance power users and reducing energy consumption is a consistent goal of our product development team."
In addition to being more energy efficient, the new compressor is also significantly smaller than conventional technology, meaning storage capacity in refrigerators can be increased by up to 15 litres.
Fisher & Paykel Appliances has worked closely with specialist Brazilian compressor manufacturer Embraco - owned by US-based Whirlpool Corporation - for the last five years on the project.
The new compressor does not use oil, instead using gas a lubricant, which the company says is more environmentally friendly and allows more flexibility in installation.
F&P Appliances says further field testing and trials will take place in the next few months.
The company hopes its compressor technology will eventually be used by major appliance manufacturers around the world.
"We will have [the compressor] product in the market [in F&P products] this year, but that will be a blind test," said Broadhurst.