Evolution of Cold Storage

The idea of preserving food by keeping it cold dates back to ancient times. However, the first modern forms of refrigeration used ice blocks to keep insulated boxes or rooms cold. The use of ice cut with axes and saws lead to the evolution of the ice industry. Fredrick Tudor started his ice business in New England. He sent ice to southern states and the Caribbean. He did this by building ice houses along the routes to store and distribute the product. He transported ice blocks using insulated train cars, and revolutionized insulated shipping. He also partnered with Nathaniel Wyeth who invented a horse drawn ice cutter in 1825. This was a turning point for the industry because it made it very efficient. By the early 1830’s ice became a mass marketed item growing from a consumption of 12,000 tons in 1843, to 100,000 tons in 1856. The boom in ice availability at a reasonable price created a “cooling culture”. Ice boxes became common place in households for food preservation. The use and appeal of cold storage paved the way for modern day refrigeration technology.

William Cullen was a Scottish professor that designed and invented the first small refrigeration machine in 1755. In 1758 Benjamin Franklin and John Hadley researched the capability of using the principals of evaporation on volatile liquids to rapidly cool an object. Alcohol and ether were the first liquids used to perform artificial refrigeration experiments. In 1820 Michael Faraday liquefied ammonia and other gases by applying a sequence of high and low pressures. This technology allowed Jacob Perkins to develop the first vapor-compression refrigeration system in in 1834. Refrigeration equipment soon became common in the meat industry for transport of frozen products overseas. They were also implemented in rail cars and delivery trucks to maintain the integrity of frozen products being transported. However, these units were dangerous and very costly. It was not until the 1800’s when GE released a gas powered refrigerator which was safer and more compact. Electric refrigerators were quickly developed and utilized Freon as the cooling agent.coldstoragechillers-evolution-12