Over the past century, air conditioning has become an integral part of many buildings. It is now common place in a range of industrial sites and offices, as well as public buildings. However, the type of air conditioning we use today is extremely inefficient when compared with new technologies that are being developed. As we look to the future, research will identify more innovative approaches to cooling.
The Evolution Of Air Conditioning
Before the first official air conditioning systems were invented, there had been a number of ways that people had used to try and stay cool. During the course of the 20th and early 21st centuries, the technology developed considerably, until we arrived at the systems we have today.
Dr John Garrie, a physician from Florida, developed the first form of air conditioning during the 1830s. This was a simple fan that blew air over ice and was used to cool down rooms in hospitals. Towards the end of the 19th century, industrial mills used specially treated air to lower temperatures and increase productivity. Alfred Wolff took the systems used in the mills and developed them for use in other buildings. This led to systems being fitted into the New York Stock Exchange in 1902.
Willis Carrier is often credited with bringing about the birth of air conditioning as we know it today. His system was developed in 1902 and used a spray to reduce the humidity and temperature within buildings. The Apparatus for Treating Air had many negatives: not only was it cumbersome and expensive, but the coolant used in the system was ammonia, which is very toxic.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the use of air conditioning grew rapidly. 1914 saw the first home system installed and in 1917 it moved into cinemas. There were breakthroughs in the technology at the start of the 1920s. Willis Carrier developed a new safer coolant that could be used and as systems became smaller, they could be installed into more buildings. During this time, air conditioning was fitted into department stores and government buildings.
With the start of the Second World War, many of these systems and technologies were used within military settings. However, following the end of the war, more people started buying air conditioning for their homes. By 1953, more than one million units had been sold. The development of the rotary compressor in 1957 enabled units to become quieter, smaller and lighter. Today, more than 85% of homes in the USA have air conditioning.
The Future Of Air Conditioning
As consumers and scientists become more aware of their surroundings, they are contriving to develop technologies that will make air conditioning systems not only more effective but also improve their energy efficiency levels. They are looking at a number of areas for future systems such as magnetic air conditioning which works by having a material exposed to a magnetic field. There is also work to look at the use of solid materials rather than gases and fluids as well as special membranes that can be used to condense water and cool the air.
People across the developed world have become used to air conditioning, both at work and at home. However, the systems need to evolve in order to create more efficient forms of cooling that will meet modern day demands on the electrical system.