To some, air conditioning and thermal refrigeration is a luxury. It is not the case in hot climates where the people living in these regions have no option, but to adopt air conditioning as a requirement to enhance the living conditions (Chua, 2011). In these cases, air conditioning is not viewed as a luxury but as a necessity; one that the individuals in these regions cannot cope without. Air conditioning systems requires energy to run them and, therefore, they tend to be expensive. However, there are different tactics that manufacturers use to ensure that air conditioning and refrigeration systems are utilized maximally and that consumers are informed regarding the effective utilization of this equipment. Energy air conditioning and refrigeration is a technology of vehicular and indoor comfort that incorporates heating, ventilation and air conditioning commonly known as HVAC (Fehlmann & Wanner, 1993). The technology was adopted as a sub-branch of mechanical engineering that incorporates the thermodynamics, heat transfer and fluid mechanics principles. As a technology, the technology is vital in the design of industrial compliant building especially skyscrapers, aquariums, health buildings, and offices (Berglund, 1980). The conditions in the construction of this buildings are regulated in terms of humidity and temperature through the incorporation of fresh air from the outside.
In 1883, Ed Friedrich founded the Friedrich in San Antonio, Texas. As an innovator and inventor, he realized the need for food preservation and this was the motivating factor that led to the creation of the first, yet primitive food refrigerator system (Friedrich.com, 2014). His innovation was the basis upon which a lucrative and highly growing industry was founded. Refrigeration was the forerunner for air conditioning systems. By 1950, Friedrich had attained a world class manufacturing plant that emphasized on the production of commercial refrigeration equipment. The company was an industry leader in the manufacture and distribution of refrigeration systems. However, there was competition from other innovators. Air conditioning traces its roots back to china where inventor Ding Huane, developed the first manually powered rotary fan (Chua, 2011).Benjamin franklin, one of the greatest American inventors, was also intrigued by the idea of air conditioning and in 1758 conducted various evaporation experiments using alcohol to achieve freezing temperatures. In 1902, a breakthrough was attained in the area where Willis Havilland Carrier experimented with the laws of humidity in an attempt of solving an application problem associated with the printing plant in Brooklyn, New York. As an experienced engineer, he incorporated the principles and laws of mechanical refrigeration as were previously established by his forerunners (Berglund, 1980).
However, whenever air condition is mentioned, G.B Wilson is considered the father of air conditioning. In 1908, Wilson proposed the principles of design for the first functional air conditioning system (Berglund, 1980). The system accomplished various tasks that are incorporated in the modern air conditioning systems. For example, the aim was to maintain a suitable degree of humidity in the various parts of a building or an office. The system also aimed at freeing the air from excessive humidity during high humid seasons. The biggest challenge in this case was making the conditioner work in a reverse manner. As a result, engineering principles were incorporated in the design and invention of the air conditioners. In addition to these two activities, the air conditioner was to supply an adequate and constant ventilation supply making the environment a conducive living and working place (Ashrae.org, 2014). Unwanted materials from the air such as dust, soot, micro-organisms and any other foreign bodies were to be removed. The room was then to be cooled to certain levels as was necessary and suited the dwellers of the surrounding. During winter seasons while the weather was extremely cold, the system was to enhance heating the rooms in an effort of generating heat. Wilson proposed that all these functionalities were to be incorporated in a system that was easy to produce and maintain and could not incur barrier acquisition costs to the users and consumers.
As of 1933, an air conditioning system was developed by the carrier air conditioning system company of America (Asme.org, 2011). The system was developed using a unit associated with belt driven condensing, mechanical controls, evaporator coil and an associated blower. After its completion, the system landed in the market and became the first model to be adopted in the United States as the air cooling system. Modern air conditioners are founded on the principles of Carriers experiments and Wilson’s principles. The contribution of engineers in the heating and cooling system can be evaluated through analyzing how these systems work. It is evident that changes in environmental conditions were the highest motivating factors that led to the development of these systems. Engineers through the adoption of engineering and design principles changed the living and working conditions (Ashrae.org, 2014). The function of air conditioners is to move air from the inside of the house or home to the outside. The effect is a constant flow of air from hot to cooler regions and in the process of the circulation, this brings out a cooling effect on the entire environment and the surrounding. As a result, the role of engineers and their contributions to daily living is observed.
The impact spans far and wide with the attribution to the forerunners who experimented and tested the principles of cooling, heating, and evaporation. It is irrefutable that the air is cooled once it is blown over a set of cold pipes otherwise known as an evaporator coil. Engineers are not only attributed to the invention. However, they are partners in the design and production that enhanced the provision of cooling systems on a worldwide scale. As inventors, the need to improve the standards of living and enhance conditions of living in areas that were unsustainable made the developments possible (Ai, Mak & Cui, 2013). As previously cited, Willis as an engineer was faced with a cooling problem in the plant industry that he worked. The result is a continuous schedule of tests and experiments in an attempt of overcoming this challenge. On the other hand, Wilson was motivated by the need to incorporate engineering principles in a system that offered users accessibility, availability, and affordability. The two individuals operate from different dimensions and angles and yet contribute to the same outcome. The role played by the engineers, therefore, is not a mere invention. It is a continued contribution to the field through design and enhancement of production.
The energy air conditioning and refrigeration marks landmark of improvement in the livelihood of modern day life. The impact of the invention has been without a shadow of doubt a greatest foundation upon which other technologies have been founded. For starters, the provision of refrigerators has enhanced the delivery of perishable goods and products across borders and in multiple geographical areas without the least worry that they will go bad. A good example is the flowers that are imported from third world countries for the manufacture of pesticides, beauty products and other products that are delivered into western countries (Asme.org, 2011). The products are highly perishable, and yet the presence of refrigerating systems has made the delivery possible. Other than this multinational companies such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi can deliver their soft drinks across national geographical areas and in the conditions that users demand; either warm or extremely cold enabled by the presence of HVAC (Ai, Mak & Cui, 2013). The invention can be attributed to the increased quality of life. From a positive perspective, the living conditions have improved. The evidence is from the daily lives of ordinary people. One can easily turn on the cooler or the AC in their living rooms in order to adjust the surrounding air to the levels that they desire.
The greatest challenge that has faced this innovation is the utilization of energy use. In an attempt to enhance smart use of energy, air conditioning and refrigeration manufacturers are stretching the capabilities of the thermostat. Here, sophisticated, diagnostic and control kits of microprocessors that make use of automated operations are being used ('IMechE seminar covers operational reliability of reciprocating compressors', 2011). The utility is an attempt of enhancing the operation and compression of the air flow systems. Currently the use of the Trane Comfort Link II that allows people to adjust settings and functions of the air conditioners using cell phones and computers. The thermostats are programmed using remote controls to adhere to these changes. According to the Comfort manufacturers, the designers are in the process of enhancing interfaces that will enable sending of text messages and email alerts that act as notifications of when service inspections and routine replacements and checkups are scheduled to be performed. The next technological development wave will incorporate smart technologies that will enable the manufacturers to interface their systems with the national electric grid (Schrag, 2014). As a result, units will be regulated based on weather changes and geography. The implementation is expected to drastically reduce energy consumption.
In conclusion, this research has evaluated the energy air conditioning and refrigeration systems since their conception to future expectations. In the process, the contribution of engineers in the conceptualization of the idea to the design and implementation has been discussed. The advantages of cooling and refrigeration systems cannot be overlooked as they make an enormous contribution towards the enhancement of modern life.