Did you know?
- CO2 is known as the ‘perfect’ natural refrigerant – climate neutral, non-toxic, non-flammable, highly energy efficient, highly space efficient
- CO2 is very abundant in the natural world, and is a waste product of many technological processes. As a result its cost is extremely low and it is readily available from everywhere. CO2 doesn’t need to be recovered from decommissioned units.
- CO2 is one of the oldest refrigerants in the world!
- In 1835 the French physicist Thilorier first solidified CO2 to dry ice and used it as a cooling agent to solidify mercury
- In 1867 American inventor Lowe described how CO2 can be used in a refrigeration system
- In 1886 a German called Franz Windhausen patented the first CO2 compressor
- From this patent, in 1887 British company J & E Hall built the first two stage CO2 compressor (earlier attempts at system design are known eg Carl Von Linde’s design for F.Krupp, Germany)
- A common misconception is that CO2 was only used aboard ships. This was largely due to the importance of CO2 for meat transportation from Australia and Latin America to Great Britain. J & E Hall was busy, by 1900 they had 1800 units aboard ships! However in the early 20th century there are numerous examples of CO2 systems in other sectors:
- Cooling in breweries and wineries
- Cooling in slaughterhouses and dairies
- Artificial ice production
- Cooling of ammunition magazines in warships
So what happened to CO2?
Broadly, the use of CO2 as a refrigerant was replaced in the 1930’s with the new chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerant, Freon, developed by DuPont and General Motors. This was thought a more suitable alternative at the time, due to lower operating pressures and less ‘sensitive’ behavior in a vapor compression cycle. Over the last century this signaled the growth, and the eventual phase out, of several successive families of synthetic refrigerants (CFC’s, HCFC’s, HFC’s), all plagued with environmental concerns relating to either ozone depletion, global warming, or both.
Happily, our understanding of what’s good for the planet has grown since that time, and technology is helping make CO2 as a refrigerant even more useful than it ever was!! We’re biased….but CO2 totally rocks! Learn more at www.glaciemcooling.com.
References – http://www.zondits.com/article/14037/brief-history-co2-refrigerant; Carbon dioxide as a natural refrigerant Alberto Cavallini and Claudio Zilio (corresponding author) Dipartimento di Fisica Tecnica, University of Padova
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