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Past, present and future of refrigeration: Pathways to the next-generation heating and cooling technologies

Last updated: 09-26-2020

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Past, present and future of refrigeration: Pathways to the next-generation heating and cooling technologies

In a little over 150 years, the refrigeration industry, in its broad meaning of heating, cooling and refrigeration applications, profoundly impacted human daily activities.  From ice harvesting during the 19 century, to initial research on artificial refrigeration done by W. Cullen, to well-known scientists, chemists and engineers B. Franklin, J. Hadley, J. Perkins, F. Carré, C. von Linde, among others, refrigeration technologies experienced transformational improvements whose fundamental principles are still in use nowadays. The “Miracle Substances” initially introduced by T. Midgley et al. in the 1930s, and then further developed to mitigate environmental concerns, enabled modern refrigeration and heat pumping systems, but also organic Rankine cycles for power generation from renewable and waste heat sources.

Despite the tremendous positive impacts on lifestyle, nutrition, personal comfort, healthcare and industrial and transportation activities in general, numerous challenges associated with the refrigeration industry are still open including the future use of working fluids, further increasing energy efficiency, developing sustainable technologies, and developing reliable and efficient energy storage.

This presentation will take delegates on a journey from an initial historical review of refrigeration to modern technologies with an emphasis on heating and cooling applications. Key aspects of vapour compression cycles, sorption systems, gas cycles, solid-state system and other “exotic” cycles will be highlighted to provide a perspective on potential research direction to design the next-generation heating, cooling and refrigeration technologies.

An award-winning international speaker, Eckhart is an acclaimed figure in the refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump (RACHP) industry. He is world-renowned for his research in fundamental thermal sciences as applied to advanced energy conversion systems, components, and their working fluids.

This paper was originally presented as a keynote address at the International Rankine 2020 Conference. IOR members who were unable to take part in the international event now have the opportunity to hear Eckhart Groll give his presentation and Eckhard will be joining the meeting to answer questions and discuss the subject with IOR members.


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