History of Air Conditioning

History of air conditioning part 1

Navel engineers, who attempt to save the president life with air conditioning (cooling)

Another notable early attempt at air conditioning came during the brief presidency of James Garfield. In 1881 as he lay on his deathbed, navel engineers concocted a box-like structure which contained melted ice.

In the ice he soaked material and used a fan to blow the cold, wet clothes to lower the temperature. The unusual method worked and lowered the temperature by 20 degrees, although the process did consume half of a million pounds of ice in just two month period!

Although navel engineers attempt to save the president was not known to some people, but it’s interesting fact collection to the history of air conditioning.

James Harrison role in air conditioning history

James Harrison is another pioneer in the topic of refrigeration. His first contributions to history of air conditioning begins in 1851, when he made the first mechanical ice making machine and it began operating on the banks of the Barwon River.

Harrison’s first commercial ice making machines followed in 1854 and his patented for an ether liquid-vapor compression refrigeration system was granted in 1855.

Harrison used a compressor on a refrigerant gas, and the compressed gas passed through the condenser, where it cooled down and liquefied. The liquefied gas then circulated through the refrigeration coils thus vaporizing again and cooling down the surrounding system.

Though he had a commercial success establishing a second ice company in Sydney in 1860, he pondered on how to compete against the American advantage of un-refrigerated beef sales to the United Kingdom.

He packed the frozen meat for the voyage and prepared the ship for a trip to Norfolk, England. He chose to use a cold room instead of installing a refrigeration system on the ship, but his experiment failed when the ice melted faster than expected.

Harrison continued to work on methods of refrigeration with an emphasis on producing a system that would allow the export of meat from Australia to England.

At the Melbourne exhibition of 1872-73, Harrison showed his proposal, where the meat would be frozen in the refrigeration plant and stored in an insulated "cold bank" on board the ship.

The ship set sail in July of 1873, but the system failed again when the ice ran out before the journey was completed. The meat defrosted and had to be thrown overboard.

Harrison’s experiments were not in vain, however, it was not long before meat was successfully being transported through the tropics using similar techniques to his.

Greater discovery in the history of air conditioning came from two engineers

Two engineers began to construct air conditioning units that would most closely resemble what we use in modern times.

In 1889, Alfred Wolff designed a ventilation system for Carnegie Hall in New York. He placed a block of ice in the air duct and as the air passed through the block it cooled the air. Wolff’s creation was not, however, successful during the highest heat of the summers.

In 1902 his contraption had moved forward and he installed a winter heating system, again in Carnegie Hall. The air conditioning system was a lot more technical than his air duct ice, combining dry and wet bulbs, steam pipe regulators and a temperature control.

Wolff moved on to install a 3000 ton air conditioning system in the New York Stock Exchange, which remained in place for the next 20 years.

The second engineer, Willis Carrier, built his self-titled “apparatus for treating air” for a publishing company in New York, in the same year as Wolff’s air duct device. Carrier’s assignment was to use his expertise to solve a problem that was occurring in the Brooklyn Printing Plant.

Fluctuation in heat and humidity were causing the dimension of the printing paper to alter and misalign the inks. Carrier installed a system much similarly to Wolff, which blew air over cold coils and through the moisture condenser.

An important difference between Wolff’s system and Carrier’s, was that Carrier used two sets of cooling coils in his machine as apposed to Wolff.

Carrier took his thoughts on the idea of air conditioning furthers in the field than most of the inventors who had played around with the concepts of air treatment. His greater discovery in history of air conditioning took place in late 1902, while he waited for a train on the platform of Pittsburgh Station.

He noticed the mist and fog surrounding him and realized that he needed to create something like this in his ventilating devices to control and adjust humidity.

Carrier is known as the “Father of air conditioning;” although, the phrase air conditioning originated from a textile engineer, Stuart W. Cramer, who came up with the name when he described his system for regulating the temperature and humidity inside a textile factory in 1905.

Thomas Midgley “Miracle Compound” changed history of air conditioning

Before the time of Carrier and Cramer, Ferdinand Carre of France developed a more complex system in 1859. Until then most of the air treatment machines used air as the main cooling ingredient.

Carre’s design contained expanding ammonia. Ammonia liquefies at a much lower temperature than water and is therefore able to absorb more heat.

Ammonia, however, is toxic and this prevented the general use of mechanical refrigerators for household use. Several fatalities occurred during the 1920’s from leakage of the ammonia from refrigerators but the combined effort among the three American companies – Frigidaire, General Motors, and DuPont – began to try to eradicate the problem.

This “miracle compound,” that changed the history of air conditioning created by Thomas Midgley with the assistant of Charles Franklin Kettering has invented refrigerant in 1928.

Ac refrigerant is not natural but is mass-produced by two companies in the United States. It is made up of chlorofluorocarbons (or CFC’s). What Midgley did not know at the time was the effect that these substances would have on the environment.

The negative effects on the ozone layers are well documented today, but during their time it was not known that these harmful CFC’s would be released from the refrigerators.

Even though CFC’s are safer than ammonia, they cause harm to ozone. As a result the ozone layer has been thinning dramatically year by year.

Around the time of World War I, the beginning of cinemas and movie theaters became the next industry that would discover a need for air conditioning. An engineer named Frederick Wittenmeier manufactured air conditioning systems for Central Park and Riviera Theater.

These units used carbon dioxide as the coolant; however, this gas demanded high-pressure equipment, which tended to suffer from leakage. The positive aspect of using carbon dioxide was that it is odorless and only becomes toxic in very high concentrations. It is also non-explosive and nonflammable.

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