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Black History Month: 3 Inventors and Their Contributions to HVAC Technology

Black History Month: 3 Inventors and Their Contributions to HVAC Technology

Modern HVAC technology is evolving at a rapid pace, but none of these recent advancements would be possible without the ingenuity of early industry pioneers. In recognition of Black History Month, Elite Air, Inc. salutes three African Americans whose skills and revolutionary ideas shifted the direction of heating, cooling, ventilation, and refrigeration.

3 HVAC Inventors to Know

Frederick McKinley Jones: Portable Air Conditioners

When Fred Jones revealed his idea for a portable air conditioning unit in 1938, his vision radicalized our world. The orphaned, self-taught mechanic earned more than 60 patents in his lifetime and is the mastermind behind the international empire Thermo King.

His roof-mounted, self-contained, automatic refrigeration unit allowed long-haul truckers to carry perishable food further distances. Today, these refrigeration principles are still used to ship three-quarters of all food to U.S. supermarkets. The machine was also a huge asset during WWII to preserve food, medicine, and blood on battlefields and bases.

David Crosthwait Jr: HVAC Design

A master of HVAC technology, David Crosthwait is an industry icon who obtained 119 patents worldwide, many of which led to the efficiency of our modern HVAC systems. His temperature-regulating inventions ranged from a new thermostat control to an improved boiler system.

Still, none are more famous than his innovative HVAC design for Radio City Music Hall, where he worked for nearly 40 years. Always one step ahead, Crosthwait was also a prolific published writer and a Purdue University professor teaching theory and design classes to future HVAC professionals.

Alice Parker: Gas Powered Furnace

Educated at Howard University Academy, Alice Parker obtained a patent for her groundbreaking gas-powered furnace in 1919. At the time, houses were heated with wood or coal, although industrial heating applications utilized natural gas.

Her natural gas furnace was designed to heat different rooms by connecting a single unit to air ducts to better circulate the warm air. While the design presented issues with heat flow, the original idea is the foundation for today’s central heating systems.

For all of your heating and cooling needs, contact Elite Air, Inc. at (609) 527-3354.


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