Refrigeration is one of the most important inventions in human history. It has helped to make our food safe, our drinks cold, and it even helps us cool down when we are hot. In this blog post, we will explore a brief history of refrigeration from 19th-century ice holes to 21st-century American fridge freezers that dispense ice as well as keep your food cold.
We don’t know exactly when people realised that keeping food cold made it last longer but we can assume it was at the dawn of time. The first documented history of refrigeration, however, was in China in the year 200 BC. The Chinese used a system of metal tubes filled with salt and water to keep food cool during the summer months, which sounds similar to how we use today’s refrigerators. There is also evidence that people were extracting natural ice from glaciers for consumption around this time too.
The next big leap forward into modern-day refrigeration was in the 19th century. In 1805, an American inventor named Oliver Evans designed a refrigeration machine to store ice for year-round consumption in areas where it was scarce in the winter months. This design included two coils of copper pipe through which ammonia passed and condensed into brine solution at one end before returning back through the pipes as liquid nitrogen. Prior to that many stately homes in the 17th and 18th centuries had ice holes dug into the ground which were filled with ice in winter and covered over to keep cool in summer.
During this same time, refrigerated ships made their way from North America down to Europe carrying perishable goods that needed keeping at a certain temperature or below. These ‘refrigerated’ boats would have blocks of ice cut out of lakes and rivers.
The fridge as we know it today first appeared in 1913 when a company called Electrolux introduced its first fridge to the market. This ‘Tekon’ model was only used in Sweden and had no electricity so it ran on methane gas captured from animal waste, which sounds very unhygienic.
Electrolux made another breakthrough in 1922 with their “Domestic Refrigerator,” which was the first refrigerator to be powered by electricity. This led to a boom in fridge sales throughout Europe and America where electrically-powered fridges had an average price of $1000 – which is about $12,500 in today’s money.
Fridge freezers today come in all shapes and sizes. You can buy American fridge freezers that dispense ice as well as keep your food cold, or an ‘all-in-one’ French door style freezer on the top with a little bit of everything inside.
What is more exciting than what fridges look like today are the possibilities they present for our future. Scientists recently discovered water at the north pole of the moon which could be used to create lunar colonies with zero-gravity fridges that can generate their own electricity by harnessing energy from solar panels.
It is safe to say, therefore, that refrigeration has come a long way since it was first discovered in 200 BC! Refrigerators have become more efficient and are now indispensable household devices. Buying a fridge, however, can be a daunting task – which one is best for you and your family? If you need some advice and some buying guides be sure to visit www.euronics.co.uk.