#274 Perkins Vapor-Compression Cycle for Refrigeration

1805, 1834

Generally regarded as one of the most significant mechanical engineering achievements.

The wide use of the Vapor-Compression cycle in the preservation of food, in cooling and heating living spaces, and other applications makes it one of the world's most significant mechanical innovations.

Conceived by American inventor Oliver Evans in 1805, the closed, vapor-compression cycle for cooling described, but never constructed a working device. Evans described an apparatus that reduces water's boiling point and cools it. Using a vacuum pump, his apparatus would have the ability to cool continuously. There is no evidence, however, that he ever produced this device.

Thirty years later, Jacob Perkins, an associate of Evans who collaborated extensively with the inventor, filed a patent in England for a continuous vapor-compression machine that could cool water and solidify it into ice continuously. Entitled "Apparatus and means for producing ice, and in cooling fluids," it was the first working device to use a system of vapor-compression for refrigeration, and was a closed-cycle devide that could operate continuously.

The device described in Perkins' patent was constructed and demonstrated in 1835 by John Hague, an engineer and associate of Perkins. While Perkins did not develop a commercially viable model, and It would take the efforts of Hague and others to produce models worthy of rapid commercialization.



Landmark Location

This landmark was approved as part of ASME's Virtual Landmark Program


Landmark recognition date

Announced on Nov. 13, 2020 to coincide with the 2020 International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition (IMECE).

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