Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
James Harrison (1816 - September 3 1893) was an Australian pioneer in the field of mechanical refrigeration. Born in Ben Lomond, Scotland he trained as a printing apprentice in Glasgow and worked in London before emigrating to Sydney, Australia in 1837. Two years later he moved south where he was commissioned to establish the Geelong Advertiser in 1840, and in 1842 he purchased the paper. It was while he owned this paper from 1842 to 1862 that his interest for refrigeration and ice-making began to develop.
Harrison's first mechanical ice-making machine begun operation in 1851 on the banks of the Barwon River at Rocky Point in Geelong, Australia. His first commercial ice-making machine followed in 1854 and his patent for an ether liquid-vapour compression refridgeration system was granted in 1855. Using a compressor upon a refrigerant gas, then forcing the compressed gas to pass through a condenser, where it cooled down and liquefied. The liquefied gas then circulated through the refrigeration coils and vaporising again, cooling down the surrounding system. The machine employed a 5m flywheel and produced 3000Kg of ice per day.
Though he had commercial success establishing a second ice company back in Sydney in 1860, he later entered the debate of how to compete against the American advantage of un-refrigated beef sales to Britain. Presenting Fresh Meat frozen and packed as if for a voyage, so that the refrigerating process may be continued for any required period, and in 1873 prepared the sailing ship Norfolk for an experimental beef shipment to Britain. His choice of a cold room system instead of installing a refrigation system upon the ship itself proved disastrous when the ice was consumed faster than expected. The experiment failed, ruining public confidence in refrigated meat at that time.
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