ASHRAE Giants Series: Willis Haviland Carrier, the Father of Air Conditioning

WillisHaverlandCarrierWhile standing on a foggy train platform in Pittsburgh, William Haviland Carrier was struck with the genius realization that he could dry air by passing it through water, using the spray as a condensing surface. Soon afterwards, Carrier conceived the idea of adjusting humidity by heating the spray water itself and controlling the dew point temperature of the air leaving the conditioning machine. With this, came “dew point control” which, an early company brochure announced, was “the greatest single factor in modern air conditioning.”

The “Apparatus for Treating Air,” which was granted U.S. Patent# 808897 in 1906, was the first of several patents awarded to Willis Haviland Carrier. The air conditioning device would historically impact factory productivity, building design, population trends, and, ultimately, the growth of U.S. Sunbelt cities, like Atlanta and Houston.

Interesting to note that while Carrier is recognized as the “father of air conditioning,” the term “air conditioning” actually originated with textile engineer, Stuart H. Cramer. Cramer used the phrase “air conditioning” in a different 1906 patent claim, filed for a device that added water vapor to the air in textile plants to condition the yarn.

Another modern and significant amenity of the sale of air conditioning began in March, 1914, when the Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, established the first incubator room, capable of providing a healthy, comfortable environment for infants. Air conditioning for patient care would be adopted by hospitals around the world throughout the 20th century.

Willis Haviland Carrier (November 26, 1876 – October 6, 1950) ASHRAE_ANDERSON_AWARDreceived the first F. Paul Anderson Award in 1932. The coveted award, named for F. Paul Anderson, ASHVE president in 1927 and an ASHVE laboratory director from 1921 to 1925, “was given by the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers in recognition of work done and meritorious services performed in the field of heating, ventilation or air conditioning.”

Sources: Mary Bellis and Carrier Corporation

Special thanks given to the Carrier Corporation


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