The History of the Refrigerator and Freezers

It is difficult to fathom life without the refrigerator because it is such a vital part of modern living. Before the invention of mechanical refrigeration systems, people had to use locally available or transported snow and ice to cold their food. In the beginning, people dug holes in the ground, lined them with wood or straw, and filled them with snow and ice to keep food cold and fresh. Throughout the majority of human history, this was the only method of refrigeration.


Modern refrigerators altered everything by doing away with the necessity for ice houses and other antiquated methods of food cooling. How do the devices operate? Removing heat from a container or a substance in order to lower its temperature is known as refrigeration. A refrigerator employs the evaporation of a liquid to absorb heat in order to cool food. Cool temperatures are produced inside the refrigerator as a result of the liquid or refrigerant evaporating at a very low temperature.

Technically speaking, a refrigerator creates chilly temperatures by compressing a liquid quickly to vapour. The rapidly expanding vapour needs kinetic energy, so it sucks it from the nearby surroundings, which subsequently starts to lose energy and cool. The main method of refrigeration used nowadays is cooling produced by the quick expansion of gases.

Early Refrigerators

William Cullen exhibited the first artificial form of refrigeration in 1748 at the University of Glasgow. Despite being brilliant, Cullen’s innovation was never put to use. Oliver Evans, an American inventor, created the first refrigeration machine’s schematic in 1805. However, Jacob Perkins didn’t create the first useful refrigeration device until 1834. With the use of a vapour compression cycle, the refrigerator produced chilly temperatures.

Oliver Evans created a refrigerator, and John Gorrie, an American doctor, produced one ten years later. For his patients with yellow fever, Gorrie employed the apparatus to chill the air. The method of liquefying gas, which is now a part of the foundation of refrigeration technology, was patented by German engineer Carl von Linden in 1876.

Thomas Elkins and John Standard, two African-American inventors, later filed patent applications for improved refrigerator designs.

The Modern Refrigerator

From the late 1800s until 1929, harmful gases including ammonia, methyl chloride, and sulphur dioxide were utilised as refrigerants in refrigerators. Methyl chloride escaping from refrigerators in the 1920s caused a number of deadly mishaps. In response, three American businesses began working together on research projects to create a less hazardous refrigeration technique, which ultimately led to the discovery of Freon. Freon-powered compressor refrigerators would quickly replace conventional refrigerators in practically all homes. Only decades later would people understand how dangerous these chlorofluorocarbons are for the entire planet’s ozone layer.

Even though some nations have taken steps to phase out the usage of chlorofluorocarbons, compressor refrigerators were still the most popular as of 2018, according to research. Alternative refrigerants, including HFO-1234yf, which are less hazardous to the environment, are currently used in some equipment. Even refrigerators that use acoustic, magnetic, and solar energy are available.