How Air Conditioning Systems Work
Since its invention by American electrical engineer Willis Haviland Carrier, air conditioners has come to be one of the most ubiquitous appliances in households and commercial establishments today. They’re extremely valuable in the summer months, and people take it for granted that any store or office they walk into would have an air conditioning system running for everyone’s comfort. How does this amazing invention cool hot heads to make life a tad more bearable for them in a blistering summer noon? Here’s a fairly simple explanation.
Air conditioners work very much like refrigerators. They make use of a universally accepted law of physics – which states that when a liquid changes to gas (a process called phase conversion), it absorbs heat. An air conditioning system exploits this by forcing special chemicals to evaporate and condense repeatedly, which is done in a closed system of metal coils.
The chemicals are called refrigerants. They flow inside chilled metal coils (which are kept cold because of low pressure). As soon as hot air flows over the coils, the refrigerant inside absorbs the heat as it changes from liquid to gas form. Air conditioners keep on cooling by re-converting the now-gaseous refrigerant back into liquid again, which is done by a compressor that puts the gas under high pressure, creating heat. Think of it as an endless cycle wherein a refrigerant evaporates and changes to gas, absorbs heat, and condenses back into liquid, then goes around again and again.
Fascinating, isn’t it? It turns out that air conditioners work using basic scientific principles to produce the needed cooling to make our long summer seasons much more comfortable. Next time you see an air conditioner pumping out cold air, it makes greater sense because now you know how they generally work.