16 December 2020

A Short History Of Refrigeration

We were all born in generations that had fridges, so we take them for granted. Without one, we would have to eat food as soon as we buy it. That would be a huge time-waster, and it would be a nuisance for all of us. It's an appliance that everyone needs, even more than a TV.  

We keep all of our snacks and drinks there, and we often forget how big of a role they play in society. A few thousand years ago, humans mastered fire, but to master cold was a completely different challenge. It's challenging because the laws of physics don't allow us to control it as easily as fire and heat. Follow this link for more info http://www.historyofrefrigeration.com/.

How did it all start? 

Ancient civilizations relied on complex irrigation tunnels that brought water to their crops. This was essential to their survival. The Persians are the only civilization that added cooling along with the water. They made a pyramid-like structure that could produce ice during the cool temperatures of the night.  

It was such a common thing that even the poor people enjoyed iced tea more than two millennia ago. The downside of this technology is that it didn't work in the places of the civilizations that tried to mimic them.  

Others relied on bringing ice from the mountains and using it or cutting pieces of it during the winter and trying to store it. There was an entire market for it, and there were traders in Greece, Italy, and Spain.  

People climbed mountains to cut ice during the night, and they came back to the cities to sell it during the day. After two thousand years, Britain realized the power of the Persian buildings and started making freezing pools based on that technology.  

This gave the wealthy families ice over the winters. After a hundred years, even the general public could enjoy cool drinks and delicious desserts. The technology spread to America and the rest of the world. In the year 1851, James Harrison used a steam machine to make ice with the help of a flywheel and a compressor.  

Another one was made for chilling beer, and that was the first known refrigerator. Now, new opportunities started to pop up. Since the machine was invented in Australia, these machines could be used on ships, and they could transport meat and fruits to the rest of the world.  

This made ice quite cheap, and many people installed their own iceboxes. This was the earliest version of the commercial fridge. It looked like a cupboard, but there was an opening at the top where you could put a block of ice. When it melted, an iceman would give you a new one, and that served to keep food cold. People did it all the way until the 1940s.  

Technology comes to the rescue 

The United States started selling refrigerators in 1918. They were super expensive, and many people didn't bother getting one since they didn't have electricity in the first place. It was a complicated machine, and it was quite difficult to stop them from catching fire.  

When people installed electricity in their homes, the prices started to go down, and the design had improved considerably. By the 70s, most families had a fridge. Nowadays, almost all homes have them. One of the best things about them is that they can store out of season foods for a long time.  

If you want to eat strawberries during the winter, you can. Fresh produce is always on the shelves, and all the foods have the same nutritional value as they did before they were stored. However, the options aren't limited only to food.  

Hospitals use them to keep blood supplies, as well as vaccines. We also have air conditioners at home and in our cars which work on the same principle. The technology hasn't changed in the last hundred years. However, many minds are tackling this problem because global warming is becoming a major issue. The planet is becoming warmer, and we might need to find a way to cool it down.  

What does the future hold? 

Commercial refrigeration is still far from perfect. There are many ways in which it can be improved. First of all, 75 million people each year are becoming urbanized. This is mainly because developing countries are making progress and improving their livelihoods.  

They need to keep their food fresh, but there is still a missing link in the cold chain. More than 20 percent of all the food produced in the world becomes waste. That's a fifth. Sometimes we throw it away, but sometimes food spoils when it gets distributed or refrigerators break down.  

There are more than 1.5 billion home fridges at the moment, as well as a hundred million commercial ones. This number is only going to rise. We always pay the price when it comes to technology and urbanization, and expanding the cold chain isn't any different.  

One of the hot topics today is the greenhouse effect. This is a process that happens when carbon dioxide levels increase and the atmosphere heats up. You can go to this site for more info.  This, combined with the release of refrigerants can be quite dangerous for the future.  

Can the design be improved? 

There are many solutions and ways to improve the efficiency of refrigerators. One of the most recent discoveries is the introduction of inverter-controlled compressors. These compressors work best with brushless motors, and they are the most efficient option today.  

The efficiency is amazing, and depending on the cooling demand, they can modify their rotation speed. This can range anywhere from 15, up to 100 percent. Everything is done automatically, and this reduces power consumption by 25 percent.  

The less power they use, the better it is for the environment. Processors equipped with predictive algorithms can solve many of the problems we face today, and one by one, they can make a small change in the world. This, along with a reduction in CO2 and new mechanisms that optimize defrost intervals will be a part of the future.  

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