Air Conditioning From The 2nd Century To The Early 20th Century

The use of air condition has existed since a Chinese inventor named Ding Huan produced the world’s first rotary fan in the 2nd century. The Chinese were indeed the early leaders in the field of air conditioning and it has been documented that the Tang Dynasty and The Song Dynasty in the 8th and 10th centuries respectively used to use giant water powered fans to cool the air.

In medieval times the Persians had developed a system which used huge cisterns filled with collected rainwater. They used wind towers to direct the air flow into a building and this hot air would hover over the collected water, causing it to evaporate and the evaporated water would cool the building. In fact this method was used in many cities in the Arabian Peninsula during medieval times.

Air conditioning took another leap forward in the Middle Ages thanks to the Egyptians who were the first people to use ventilators. Ventilators were used throughout the country and historians tell us that at this time almost every home in Cairo had one.

In an experiment at Cambridge University in the 1700s two professors performed an experiment to study the effects of evaporation of volatile liquids such as alcohol. The experiment concluded that it would be conceivably possible to ‘…freeze a man to death on a warm summer’s day.’ The chilling potential of liquid ammonia was discovered by Michael Faraday in the 19th century, and in the same century a man from Florida called John Gorrie made a machine that could make ice using compressor technology. Gorrie hoped he could make a machine to cool entire cities and was granted a patent but the project came to a halt when his financial backer died and the device was never built.

The first official air conditioning machine was built by 1902 by a Willis Carrier from New York. This machine controlled temperature as well as humidity and involved the blowing of air through cold coils to cool the air. Originally built to control the temperature in a large printing company, it was taken on by other companies to increase productivity in the workplace and was the beginning of the modern air conditioning system.

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