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Who Invented Refrigerator?

Ever wondered who invented the refrigerator and how? The word “refrigeratory” was used at least as early as the 17th century. The history of artificial refrigeration began when Scottish professor William Cullen of University of Glasgow designed a small refrigerating machine in 1755. No one took interest in it for commercial or home consumption, it only attracted scientific attention.

Schematic of Dr. John Gorrie’s 1841 mechanical ice machine.

In 1805, American inventor Oliver Evans described a closed vapor-compression refrigeration cycle for the production of ice by ether under vacuum. In 1820, the British scientist Michael Faraday liquefied ammonia and other gases by using high pressures and low temperatures, and in 1834.

Jacob Perkins, An American expatriate in Great Britain, built the first working vapor-compression refrigeration system. It was a closed-cycle device that could operate continuously. In 1842, John Gorrie (American physician) built a working unit on the basis of Oliver’s designs. He constructed this unit to create cooling atmosphere for his patients who were suffering from yellow fever, but it was a commercial failure.

James Harrison, a British journalist built a mechanical ice-making machine in 1851 on the banks of the Barwon River at Rocky Point in Geelong, Victoria and his first commercial ice-making machine followed in 1854. He patented his first for a vapor compression system using ether, alcohol or ammonia. Harrison introduced commercial vapor-compression refrigeration in 1861.

In 1876 Carl von Linden invented the improved method of liquefying gas and got it patented. This was a great help in the creation of practical refrigerator. Ammonia, sulphur dioxide and methyl chloride were utilized for the formation of this gas which led to many accidents. The need led to the development of Freon and was used in bulk till it was found that it was not environment friendly and affected the ozone layer.

Advertising for the fridge (GE PHOTOGRAPHIC COLLECTION / CATERS NEWS )

In 1913, refrigerators for home and domestic use were invented by Fred W.Wolf with models consisting of a unit that was mounted on top of an ice box. In 1918, Kelvinator company introduced the first refrigerator with any type of automatic control. The absorption refrigerator was invented by Baltzar von Platen and Carl Munters which was commercialized by Electrolux. It became a worldwide Success. By 1923, Kelvinator held 80 percent of the market for electric refrigerators. The introduction of Freon in the 1920s expanded the refrigerator market during the 1930s and provided a safer, low-toxicity alternative to previously used refrigerants. Separate freezers became common during the 1940s; the popular term at the time for the unit was a deep freeze.

It has been a work of many great inventors that the present form of refrigerators has simplified the work.

America’s oldest fridge still keeping cool: A refrigerator still chilling after almost 85 years could be the oldest in America. It is believed to be the oldest working fridge in the US — a title once belonging to a 1938 flat top GE model owned by Mike Ansel from Pennsylvania.



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