A Brief History of Cold Storage and Refrigeration

A Brief History of Cold Storage and Refrigeration



August 2, 2021

Todays, Cold Storages and Refrigeration are important tools in our lives today. It can be said that wherever you turn, you will see traces of refrigerators, freezers and other refrigeration systems. But do you know the date of use of cooling devices? How did the first refrigerators work? How did ancient humans store their food for so long? This article assesses the history of cooling, refrigeration, and how refrigerators came to be.

Middle East, the birthplace of cold storage

Looking at the historical monuments of the region, we will see several examples of elementary cold storages. Of course, we must first turn to natural glaciers to examine the history of cooling and refrigeration. In some mountainous areas of Iran, glaciers were formed that lasted during the summer due to the weather conditions. Snow and ice accumulated in the mountains or valleys did not melt even in the summer heat and so it was a good place to store temperature-sensitive food.

The problem with glaciers, however, was the difficult routes and difficult access to their location. In this way, the idea of building artificial refrigerators and cold storages was formed in the minds of ancient people. While there was no natural glacier in most desert cities and flat plains and this option was practically ruled out.

If you have traveled to cities like Yazd and Kashan in Iran, you have probably encountered cone-shaped buildings, which locals call refrigerator. These refrigerators can be considered as the first hand-made refrigerators in Iran and even in the world.

History of refrigerators: When it comes to refrigeration system

Although the first artificial refrigerators were built in the Middle East, but then, the history of cooling must be traced to Europe. The invention of the first mechanical refrigerators was the same thing that the refrigeration industry needed. In these mechanical systems, a refrigerator coolant was used to cool the environment such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ammonia, etc. Of course, the use of the first refrigeration systems was limited to ice production.

Until, Jacob Perkins‎ invented his own mechanical refrigerator in 1834. An important difference between the Perkins refrigerator and the previous models was that its purpose was not to produce ice, but Perkins had a larger purpose than this invention. Actually, the difference between the Perkins refrigerator and the refrigerators of that time was that it maintained the temperature of the refrigerator at a certain number, a technology that revolutionized the history of refrigeration systems.

New refrigerators: Hello to technology

With the advancement of technology, gradually, mechanical refrigerators became more complete. The use of refrigeration cycles, the discovery of thermodynamic laws, and the like, revolutionized cooling and refrigeration once again in the twentieth century. In the meantime, we should not forget the names of the great inventors in this field:

  • The first reservoir refrigerator was invented by Fred Wolf in 1913.
  • Afred Mullens (1916) used compressors to design absorption refrigerators to become commonplace.
  • Carl Munters and Baltzar von Platen are also important in this field. The construction of electric refrigerators in Sweden (1922) played an important role in the refrigeration industry. This refrigerator was soon welcomed by manufacturers and in a way; it is the mother of today’s refrigerators.

Refrigerator-equipped truck: Forward to static refrigerators

After the Industrial Revolution and the expansion of urbanization, mass production of food was the only solution to meet the needs of the people. Mass production of agricultural and food products tempted producers to export their products. The food trade underwent fundamental changes through the construction of the United States Railroad and the advent of transportation.

Everything changed forever with the transportation of food in the twentieth century and the invention of absorption refrigerators and the use of this system in transport wagons and truck containers. Now any manufacturer could export their products wherever they wanted without worrying about them spoiling.

The role refrigerator-equipped truck and refrigerated wagons has not diminished over the years, but as the population has grown, the need for this type of transport vehicle has increased. Currently, the production of refrigerator-equipped truck and refrigeration units is one of the busiest and most needed jobs in the world.


The strange thing about studying the history of cooling and refrigeration is that we must first go to the desert lands. A place where its people had trouble keeping ice for a long time; and this led to the formation of the first glacial structures. In nineteenth-century Europe, refrigerants were first used for ice-making; which played an important role in the construction of mechanical refrigerators, and we have to look for traces of the first reservoir refrigerator in Europe Refrigerators that used compressors to cool the refrigerator reservoir played an important role in the emergence of the refrigeration industry. The expansion of trade and transportation routes made producers and farmers think about exporting food products and combining food wagons and trucks with electric absorption refrigerators was the solution that changed the food business forever.

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