The Methods of Cooling: Past, Present, and Future

March 22 2017

James Patten


Various methods of cooling have been available for centuries. It could even be said that cooling was invented in the prehistoric times when people used snow and ice to cool their homes. This was a popular method of cooling right up to the late 17th century until mechanical ice machines were invented.

But what was the progression like for cooling systems? We at Heritage Heating specialise in all kinds of cooling systems, so we wanted to provide you with a bit of industry knowledge and tell you what the past, present, and future of cooling was/is/will be like.

Past: Mechanical Cooling

This type of cooling emerged from the 18th and 19th centuries with the advancement of compression technology. In the middle of the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin and John Hadley conducted various experiments to understand the principle of evaporation and how it could be used to rapidly cool an object.

Just less than a century later, John Gorrie managed to use compression technology to turn water into ice; this then led to him taking out a patent for an ice machine, hoping to use it to bring forth air conditioning to cities around the US, but never lived for it to come to fruition. It wasn’t until the early 20th century when Willis Carrier invented the first electrical air conditioning units.

Present: Refrigeration and Evaporative Cooling

Currently, the most popular air conditioning cooling systems operate via refrigeration and evaporative cooling. Refrigeration involves the expansion and compression of a refrigerant that is used to cool down the interior of a room, such as a warehouse or an office space. Fans blow air past the pipes containing the refrigerant, which removes the heat from the air, resulting in cooler air being injected into the room.

Compressor of an air conditioning unit

Evaporative cooling systems don’t use any refrigerants, making them 90% more energy efficient; they also decrease your carbon footprint and are cheaper to install. However, they aren’t very effective in environments that are particularly humid; if the humidity remains below 50% and the temperature is relatively hot, then evaporative cooling systems are at their most efficient.

Future: Magnetic Refrigeration

The future of cooling systems will target the removal of harmful CFCs and HFCs within the appliances that we use on a daily basis, thanks to the Montreal Protocol. One new technology that has been developed is known as magnetic air conditioning, which uses an effect known as the magnetocaloric effect and involves a metal present within a magnetic field.

The idea is that, when the metal is placed into the field, it heats up and then loses the thermal energy, meaning that it is cooler than when it entered the magnetic field. In the future, we will most likely see these types of cooling units, especially since it will be safer, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly compared to any other type of cooling unit used previously.

Image of a red magnet

The future of cooling systems is all down to us; we are the ones that impact the planet, whether by introducing a number of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere or reducing the number of CFCs present in it, so we need to make sure that the future generations are free of the harmful things that we have been responsible for.

We at Heritage Heating are focused on ensuring the safety of the environment, which is why we can supply the very best evaporative cooling systems that are more efficient and environmentally friendlier than any other.

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