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Who invented first car air conditioner?

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2009-02-07 01:12:59

AIR CONDITIONERS

Early automobiles were not exactly comfortable. They were open

vehicles and their skinny tires and rugged construction provided

for a very rough ride. In winters, passengers bundled up and in the

summer, air conditioning was a breeze that resulted from a top

speed of 15 mph. And when the car companies started closing up the

hoods, things got worse. The interiors got very hot and something

serious needed to be done. They put up vents in the floor of the

car, but this brought in more dirt and dust than it did cool air.

More ingenious ideas followed. In 1884, William Whiteley

made an experimentation by placing blocks of ice in a holder under

horse carriages and blowing air inside by means of a fan attached

to the axle. A bucket near a floor vent was the automotive

equivalent. An evaporative cooling system followed next. The

temperature-reducing effect of air passing over water was adopted

by a company called Nash and was called a Weather Eye. But the

first car with an actual refrigeration system was the 1939

Packard. It consisted of a large evaporator, called the 'cooling

coil,' which took up the entire trunk space. The only control was a

blower switch. Packard, in fact, ran its advertising as, "Forget

the heat this summer in the only air-conditioned car in the world.

Cadillac followed suit in 1941 with 300 air-conditioned cars. All

of these early air-conditioning systems had one big drawback: there

was no compressor clutch, so the pump was on when the engine was

running. To shut the system off, one had to stop, get out, open the

hood, and remove the belt. It wasn't until after WWII that Cadillac

advertised a new, high-tech feature: the air-conditioning controls.

The controls were located on the rear package shelf, which meant

that the driver had to climb into the back seat to shut the system

off. Yet it was still better than reaching under the hood. The

Harrison Radiator Division of General Motors may be credited with

developing the first efficient, affordable unit that could be made

in mass production. It was available as an option on all 1954

Pontiacs with V8s. It featured a two-cylinder reciprocating

compressor, and an all-brazed condenser. It also used a magnetic

clutch, so when it was not in use, no power was needed to drive the

compressor, which improved performance and fuel economy. However,

air conditioning continued to be a rare option for many years. It

wasn't until the late 70s and 80s that air-conditioned cars became

a craze. Systems were getting better and people realized that they

didn't really have to sweat it out because their air-conditioning

units did not run well. It's estimated that now over 80% of the

cars and light trucks in operation in the United States have air

conditioning. Today, heating and air-conditioning systems are very

efficient. Modern Automatic Temperature Control set-ups are more

dependable than the older vacuum and thermostatic creations.

Computers also insure that both the passenger and driver are

comfortable, maintaining the optimum temperature. The future of

automotive air conditioning is changing, and for the better. Now

there are new electronic and compressor designs. The concern over

the chlorofluorocarbon emissions and the damage they cause to ozone

layer has induced innovations in order to reduce the emissions.

Most cars today use a new refrigerant called R-134A, which contains

no chlorine. Auto repair businesses are also taking steps to reduce

the amount of R-12 or chlorofluorocarbons that escapes during

service work.


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