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History of ventilation! Part 2: Development of ventilation system
August 22, 2014

History of ventilation! Part 2: Development of ventilation system

In the previous article you could read some interesting things connected to the issue of finding a suitable ventilation rate and here you can read about how the ventilation evolved.

The first water-driven fan was built by Leonardo Da Vinci around 1500. Before that, there was only natural ventilation taking into account the building´s orientation, placement of windows along with high ceilings and large open staircases in ventilation domes and use of stack effect. The real development of ventilation industry did not start until 19th century with the use of steam and electricity with direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC) motors for fans. The speed of fan with DC motor could be controlled by varying voltage and it was first used in the HVAC industry, but later the AC motor was found more suitable thanks to multiphase motors.

Willis Carrier (1876–1950) noted: “Development of air conditioning is the natural outgrowth of busy, intelligent minds aiming towards improvement.” Driven aspect for ventilation was both comfort and health. The aim was to control temperature, humidity, purity and motion of the air in a closed space independently of outdoor conditions.

Even after developing of electric fans had limitation in warm climate as most fans make the air feel 7-8 degrees cooler by increasing convective heat transfer from the body. So the next step was to use cooling in front of the fan, first with placing ice in front of a fan and after with steam-powered fans with ice. More progress in refrigeration industry and steam engines and vapour compression refrigeration machines has led to many applications of comfort cooling in commercial, cultural and industrial areas.

After applying a control for humidity indoors, the first exposure to air conditioning was in America´s cinemas and theatres during 1920s and 1930s even when during the summer months the temperature was too high outdoors. After the World War II, the development of first console coolers looking like furniture was becoming a common piece in homes.

The oil crisis in 1974 in the U.S. has brought the focus on maximizing the potential of HVAC system and balance between energy consumption and thermal comfort and air quality and low operational cost. There were several ideas regarding recovering of thermal energy implemented in HVAC system such as off-peak storage/manufacturing of energy and heat pumps. The mid-1970 brought the attention to the dangerous fluids used in refrigerants and the control of the air system using electronics and also allowing the system to be controlled online.

Source: The history of ventilation and air conditioning: Is CERN up to date with the latest technological developments? By J. Kühnl-Kine