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April 17 doesn’t generally ring with recognition for most people, but it should, especially anyone who enjoys a cold beer on a hot day.

Tomorrow (April 17) is the anniversary of the man who invented the mechanical refrigeration process for creating ice. And this amazing feat of invention was performed in Australia, along the banks of the Barwon River in Geelong.

Born in Scotland in 1816,  James Harrison arrived in Australia in 1837.  He is usually referred to as "the father of refrigeration”.

Harrison's first mechanical ice-making machine began operation in 1851 and his first commercial machine followed in 1854.

What made this refrigeration system unique was the use of a compressor to force vapourised ether into a condenser for cooling, where it turned back into liquid.

This liquid then made its way through the refrigeration coils and turned back into gas, which cooled down the insides of the system.

The beer industry could taste a winning idea, so in 1856 Harrison was commissioned by a brewery to build a machine that could cool beer.

His system was almost immediately taken up by beer producers and was also widely used by meatpacking factories. Harrison’s method of refrigeration is still used today.

Although the process has been refined, refrigeration and air conditioning technicians are still in awe of the ingenuity of the design.

Australia likes to celebrate its heroes, so this April 17 raise a cold drink to Mr James Harrison, and all the refrigeration and air conditioning technicians out there doing such an important job.

Cheers to such a great Aussie invention!

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