Can you survive cold winter days and nights without your heater on? Can you imagine the hot summer months without your air cooling system running all day long? If you can’t, you might want to thank the person who invented the air conditioning system. He made our lives easier and more comfortable.
Air conditioning is the technique of regulating the condition of air for a more comfortable environment for man or industrial products. Four physical properties of air are controlled in air conditioning. These are air temperature, relative humidity, air motion or circulation and the dust particles in the air. Control of these four properties is necessary for air conditioning for the consideration of human comfort. Even more precise control over these properties is required in the operation of some industrial air conditioning units. Other properties like odour and air pressure are further controlled in some specific industries.
The control of air temperature in air conditioning includes both heating and cooling processes. Air conditioning provides many applications. Air-conditioned business establishments such as stores, restaurants and theatres attract customers, especially during the hot and humid summer season. Modern transportation requires ample air conditioning to provide people with much-needed comfort. Most modern buses, trains, aircraft and passenger cars are equipped with state of the art air conditioning systems that provide total comfort to the travelling public. Huge industrial plants require precise air temperature control to maintain their high level of product quality. Even industrial workers need a more favourable working environment and are usually provided with industrial air conditioning units, in order to function more effectively and efficiently in their operation.
Who must have started with the concept of air conditioning that we are benefiting from today? The cavemen, during pre-historic times, may have started the idea. The extreme chill inside the caves may have prompted them to come up with something that will make their lives more comfortable. They discovered the first fire and used this to warm their caves. Moving fast forward, the subsequent development of temperature control of environment can be traced through the advancement in hearths, open fireplaces and ceramic stoves, but the birth of modern air conditioning has been attributed to Willis H. Carrier. Carrier described the energy relationships that existed in an air and water vapour mixture. In order to enable engineering designers to predict the performance of the component parts, Carrier proposed some simplifying steps.
The development of both winter and summer air conditioning was largely attributed to the Americans and along with this, were improvements made in boilers, automatic controls, automatically fired furnaces and thermal insulation.
Although the research work in home cooling was done in the 1930s, it wasn’t until the late 1940s that the demands for home cooling systems became high. The Great Depression caused a delay in the public acceptance of the home cooling system because of the added burden of expenses the new system brought with it. Many homes were already equipped with air conditioning by 1950s and 1960s.
Clearly, the development of the air conditioning system has brought so much comfort to everyday lives and favourable environments to our ever-growing industries.