May
13
2019
focusun

History of Ice Making

In 1842 John Gorrie created a system capable of refrigerating water to produce ice. Although it was a commercial failure, it inspired scientists and inventors around the world. France’s Ferdinand Carre was one of the inspired and he created an ice producing system that was simpler and smaller than that of Gorrie. During the Civil War, cities such as New Orleans could no longer get ice from New England via the coastal ice trade. Carre’s refrigeration system became the solution to New Orleans ice problems and by 1865 the city had three of Carre’s machines.[13] In 1867, in San Antonio, Texas, a French immigrant named Andrew Muhl built an ice-making machine to help service the expanding beef industry before moving it to Waco in 1871. In 1873, the patent for this machine was contracted by the Columbus Iron Works, a company acquired by the W.C. Bradley Co., which went on to produce the first commercial ice-makers in the US.

By the 1870s breweries had become the largest users of harvested ice. Though the ice-harvesting industry had grown immensely by the turn of the 20th century, pollution and sewage had begun to creep into natural ice, making it a problem in the metropolitan suburbs. Eventually, breweries began to complain of tainted ice. Public concern for the purity of water, from which ice was formed, began to increase in the early 1900s with the rise of germ theory. Numerous media outlets published articles connecting diseases such as typhoid fever with natural ice consumption. This caused ice harvesting to become illegal in certain areas of the country. All of these scenarios increased the demands for modern refrigeration and manufactured ice. Ice producing machines like that of Carre’s and Muhl’s were looked to as a means of producing ice to meet the needs of grocers, farmers, and food shippers.

The new refrigerating technology first met with widespread industrial use as a means to freeze meat supplies for transport by sea in reefer ships from the British Dominions and other countries to the British Isles. The first to achieve this breakthrough was an entrepreneur who had emigrated to New Zealand. William Soltau Davidson thought that Britain’s rising population and meat demand could mitigate the slump in world wool markets that was heavily affecting New Zealand. After extensive research, he commissioned the Dunedin to be refitted with a compression refrigeration unit for meat shipment in 1881. On February 15, 1882, the Dunedin sailed for London with what was to be the first commercially successful refrigerated shipping voyage and the foundation of the refrigerated meat industry.

The Times commented, “Today we have to record such a triumph over physical difficulties, as would have been incredible, even unimaginable, a very few days ago…” The Marlborough—sister ship to the Dunedin – was immediately converted and joined the trade the following year, along with the rival New Zealand Shipping Company vessel Mataura, while the German Steamer Marsala began carrying frozen New Zealand lamb in December 1882. Within five years, 172 shipments of frozen meat were sent from New Zealand to the United Kingdom, of which only 9 had significant amounts of meat condemned. Refrigerated shipping also led to a broader meat and dairy boom in Australasia and South America. J & E Hall of Dartford, England outfitted the ‘SS Selembria’ with a vapor compression system to bring 30,000 carcasses of mutton from the Falkland Islands in 1886.[18] In the years ahead, the industry rapidly expanded to Australia, Argentina and the United States.

By the 1890s refrigeration played a vital role in the distribution of food. The meat-packing industry relied heavily on natural ice in the 1880s and continued to rely on manufactured ice as those technologies became available.[19] By 1900, the meat-packing houses of Chicago had adopted ammonia-cycle commercial refrigeration. By 1914 almost every location used artificial refrigeration. The major meat packers, Armour, Swift, and Wilson, had purchased the most expensive units which they installed on train cars and in branch houses and storage facilities in the more remote distribution areas.

By the middle of the 20th century, refrigeration units were designed for installation on trucks or lorries. Refrigerated vehicles are used to transport perishable goods, such as frozen foods, fruit and vegetables, and temperature-sensitive chemicals. Most modern refrigerators keep the temperature between –40 and –20 °C and have a maximum payload of around 24,000 kg gross weight (in Europe).

Although commercial refrigeration quickly progressed, it had limitations that prevented it from moving into the household. First, most refrigerators were far too large. Some of the commercial units being used in 1910 weighed between five and two hundred tons. Second, commercial refrigerators were expensive to produce, purchase, and maintain. Lastly, these refrigerators were unsafe. It was not uncommon for commercial refrigerators to catch fire, explode, or leak toxic gases. Refrigeration did not become a household technology until these three challenges were overcome.

 

 

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