It is hard to compare refrigeration to electric light or central heating, but certainly, refrigeration has to rank up among the greatest inventions of all time. Prior to refrigeration, the world’s diet was significantly impaired, and if you wanted to get out of the heat during summer, you’d have to move to some place colder. From the industrial York chiller parts to the small compressor in your fridge, the process of refrigeration works day in and day out to make life easier.
How Refrigeration Works
No matter its application or size, refrigeration equipment works on the same basic principles. These principles are fairly simple, though the equipment used can often be highly sophisticated. Since refrigeration works in a cycle, it is possible to begin its description at any point in the process, but the point where the coolant is a cool liquid at low pressure is a good place to begin.
- Depending on the type of system (fridge or freezer) the coolant will be at varying levels of coldness. The coolant will typically travel through the evaporator—a copper tube to which metal fins have been attached. The coolant will chill the tube and the fins. An air blower is constantly circulating air over these fins, and as it passes over, the air loses its heat to the metal, chilling the air and warming the coolant, providing the cold air for the refrigerated environment. During this process, the coolant changes from a liquid to a gas.
- The gas then enters the compressor. The compressor compresses (strangely enough) the gas into a high-pressure form, cranking up the heat and driving the circulation within the system.
- The compressed hot gas leaves the compressor and enters the condenser—the stage where it loses most of its heat. As the gas passes through coils of tubing attached to fins (much like the evaporator) air is blown over it, achieving the opposite effect of the evaporator, heating the air and cooling the gas so that it changes back into its liquid form. The liquid is still in a high-pressure state and still warm, but it is much cooler than it was before. Industrial systems have a reservoir at this point to collect the liquid, and a sight in order to observe the liquid for potential problems.
- The TX valve performs the rest of the magic. The warm liquid (still under high pressure) passes through the valve which is typically a restrictive hole that only allows a little liquid through at a time. This process immediately reduces the pressure in the liquid and, in so doing, dramatically lowers its temperature so that it reaches the level of coldness ready to pass into the evaporator. This phenomenon is what allows refrigeration to work.
Refrigeration, from huge York chiller parts to mini-fringes that hold only a few soda cans, is one of the wonders of modern technology; it keeps our food from spoiling, and allows us to remain pleasantly chilled when the weather outside is blazing hot. Now that’s cool!