The Early Days

John Gorrie invented commercial refrigeration around 1842.  Gorrie invented a commercial refrigeration system for freezing water to produce ice.  Although commercially a failure, it did spark interest and jump-start the commercial refrigeration industry.

Texas became a major historical player in the commercial refrigeration industry in the 1860’s when Andrew Muhl, a French immigrant, built an ice machine to serve the ever-expanding beef industry.  Headquartered 100 miles south of Dallas, Texas in Waco, Texas this commercial refrigeration machine, one of the first ice machines, became patented in 1873.  Breweries in the 1870’s became the largest businesses to need commercial refrigeration in the form of ice machines.

Commercial Refrigeration: Refrigerated Rail Car

Refrigerated rail cars, developed in the early 1840’s, used harvested ice to cool beef.  After germ theory proved that harvested ice could lead to disease and tainted drinking water, the budding food transportation industry developed commercial refrigeration ice machines to help.

Commercial Refrigeration in the Food Industry

Commercial refrigeration progressed in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s due to the food industry needing ways to transport food without it spoiling.  Therefore, train cars, Lorries, trucks and warehouses started containing commercial refrigeration inside them. These refrigeration units were large, expensive and unsafe, sometimes leaking gasses, exploding, or catching fire. Therefore, it was not until commercial refrigeration units were refined and their size reduced before they became household appliances.

Continued development into new refrigerants replaced ammonia, methyl chloride, and others with a synthesized refrigerant named Freon. This gas was more stable and considered safer than the alternative refrigerants. Refrigeration used it until its discontinuation in 1987 due to its ozone depleting characteristics.

The continued development and refinement progressed with smaller sized units and greater safety developed into commercial refrigeration units.  This progression led to the development of a consumer product category called the refrigerator.  Eventually, the refrigerator replaced the icebox, which was an insulated box that used harvested ice to cool the interior.  In the 20th century, according to Wikipedia, refrigeration has made “Galactic Cities” such as Dallas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles possible.

Contact RSI for Commercial Refrigeration in Dallas

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