1854: First Mechanical Ice-Machine
Innovation: First Mechanical Ice-Machine
Location: Geelong, Australia
By: James Harrison
Following in the footsteps of Jacob Perkins who obtained the first patent for a vapor-compression refrigeration system in 1834 and John Gorrie who patented a mechanical refrigeration system machine in 1851, James Harrison began operation of his first commercial ice-making machine in 1854 in Geelong, Australia. In 1855, Harrison was granted a patent for an ether vapor-compression refrigeration system which was the system used in the ice-machine.
“This novel system used a compressor to force the refrigeration gas to pass through a condenser, where it cooled down and liquefied. The liquefied gas then circulated through the refrigeration coils and vaporised again, cooling down the surrounding system.”
This system not only revolutionized the refrigerator (as the sytem is still used today with refinements and a replacement of ether by other gases), it also revolutionized mechanical cooling contributing to the development of the air-conditioner. The ability to have heat transferred to an area of higher temperature was a primary problem in architecture before AC. However, with the ideas and inventions of James Harrison and fellow scientists of low-temperature technology, temperature could now be regulated and AC would eventually become a standard for all buildings.