History Of Air Conditioning

A modern day air conditioning unit

Air conditioners are considered by many to be life savers that help us fight the scorching summer heat. Not only do they cool the air in our buildings and provide us with a chilled room, but they also have numerous health benefits. Air conditioners contain filters that purify the air we breathe and remove all the dust, the dirt, the microbial particles present and all other air borne particles that are almost inseparable.

Air conditioners also have stress reducing qualities that are even lesser known. Hot air has very high stress inducing qualities, which causes an increase in blood pressure, increased heart rate and also cause nervous break downs in extreme conditions. Air conditioners are known to be able to effectively counter all these issues which are known to wreck our summers for us. But how did this magic appliance come to be?

John Gorrie – the physicist who made the breakthrough

There were many attempts at this kind of device right from mid-18th century. The first notable moment came when Dr. John Gorrie, an American physician, made a machine that blew air, using many wall fans, over a bucket containing crushed ice.

Perhaps the first break-through was achieved by Willis Carrier. Widely acknowledged to be the “Father of Air Conditioning”, his machine was called “Air Treatment Machine”, and used chilled coils to cool the air. This apparatus was able to lower the humidity to almost 50%.

The major drawback of this apparatus was its huge and bulky size, and the use of poisonous ammonia as a coolant. This problem was overcome eventually in 1922, when Carrier replaced the ammonia with benign coolant dielene, and a compressor was added to the system. But the apparatus still remained very bulky and noisy for use in home. By 1928, air conditioners were installed in the offices of all the representatives in the White House, and soon the Supreme Court and the Senate followed suit.

After the second World War, the sale of air conditioners increased by almost ten times in less than 8 years.

Today, while the air conditioners are widely blamed for the burning of a huge hole in our ozone layer, it has become one of the essentials of life, right after food, water and shelter, and cannot be done without.