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History of Air Conditioning Autor:Jim Knight

"It was luxuries like air conditioning that brought down the Roman Empire. With air conditioning their windows were shut, they couldnt hear the barbarians coming." –Garrison Keillor, American author, humorist and radio personality. Garrison Keillor might have been joking when he made this observation , but his statement certainly captures the essence of the tremendous comfort associated with air conditioning that we today take for granted. Or perhaps he wasnt joking at all. After all, air conditioning is modifying the humidity and temperature of indoor air for comfort, and hence, is not restricted to the electrical machines so ubiquitous nowadays. In fact, although the concept of heat transfer through machinery may be a relatively modern concept, the cooling of buildings using evaporation of water is not. The aforementioned Romans had a rudimentary air conditioning system where water from aqueducts was circulated through the walls of houses to cool them. In the eight century China, Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty had a Cool Hall in the imperial palace, which was reportedly equipped with water-powered fan wheels for air conditioning and rising jet streams of water from fountains. Medieval Persia had cisterns which stored rainwater and specially-designed wind catching towers that would direct winds over the cisterns and into buildings, effectively cooling them. Ventilators to regulate the flow of air were invented in medieval Egypt and contributed immensely to comfort in the hot climes. In 1758, Benjamin Franklin demonstrated the cooling effect of evaporating liquids by using ether and alcohol to reach temperatures below the freezing point of water. The first step towards mechanized air conditioning was taken in 1842 by Florida physician Dr. John Gorrie. He studied tropical diseases, and in accordance with the then-prevalent Miasma

theory of disease , advocated the cleaning of air and cooling of hospitals. For this purpose , he initially used ice in a basin suspended from the ceiling; the heavier cool air flowed down towards the patients. However , this procedure required ice that was brought down from north at great expense , and Dr. Gorrie started thinking of making ice artificially, finally abandoning his medical practice in this endeavor. On May 6, 1851, Dr. Gorrie was granted Patent No. 8080 for an ice-making machine . His dream was to use his ice-making machine to regulate the temperature of buildings, and possibly, entire cities. Although his prototype worked, he lacked funds for commercial development and had to face criticism from his peers, and died a broken man in 1855, burying with him the idea of airconditioning for 50 years. His plans have been preserved at the Smithsonian and for many , he was the "father of air conditioning".But the man most popularly acknowledged as the "father of air conditioning" is Wills Haviland Carrier, who invented the first modern electrical air conditioning unit in 1902. A Cornell graduate , he started his career at at the Buffalo Forge Company, where he found himself experimenting with air conditioning in response to an engineering problem . Consequently , the first "air conditioner," was designed and built in Buffalo by Carrier on 17 July 1902. This was the first device to provide both humidity and temperature of air, giving rise to the modern definition of air conditioning. The company he founded to build and market his remarkable invention still exists as Carrier Corporation, a $12.5 billion giant with over 43,000 employees serving customers across 170 countries. For more information, please visit:

History of Air Conditioning