Refrigeration Changed the World

Of all the inventions of the 20th century, refrigeration changed our lives in many big and small ways.

The Big Chill

Modern refrigeration keeps restaurants thriving

Chuck Allgood, Refrigerants Technology Leader, explains how modern refrigeration helps restaurants thrive.

A Little Salt With Your Food?

Would you like a pungent odor coming from your codfish? How about if it quivered to the touch like jelly—would that entice you?

Well, that’s what you’d get if you had some lutefisk, a Nordic delicacy. For those hailing from other parts of the world, it is an acquired taste, as are many other traditionally preserved foods. Before the arrival of refrigeration, traditional preservation methods, such as salting and fermentation, were the only ways to store perishable food.

A Significantly Less Salty Solution to Food Preservation

Nowadays, the kitchen fridge, with all its amazing features, works wonders. But consider the power of a much less heralded appliance: the restaurant cooler. It must work in a much harsher environment, battling limited ventilation, slicks of grease, and high ambient temperatures. Advanced low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants like Opteon™—which have low discharge temperatures to reduce the burden on already-stressed refrigeration equipment (and equally stressed line cooks)—enable restaurant coolers to function at peak efficiency. Keeping expensive ingredients at optimal temperatures helps make restaurant food safe and delicious.

Refrigeration also keeps home cooking wholesome and nourishing. But no matter where people eat, food is perishable—none more so than seafood. And these delicate delicacies need to travel to get to your plate. Luckily, a whole cold chain runs from the fishing trawlers that harvest the catch to the cook who puts the fillet in the skillet. And all of it depends on refrigeration.

Whether it’s apples reserved for the off-season, unripe bananas waiting their turn in produce, or fine fish on hold for the discerning diner, anything in cold storage must ship dependably and safely. One leak of a toxic refrigerant could ruin millions of dollars’ worth of inventory, as could equipment breakdown brought on by extreme conditions. Fortunately, advanced refrigerants like Opteon™ offer safety and a very low GWP, to preserve sustainably harvested seafood and protect the planet, too.

New refrigerants also enable sustainability when people shop. Online retailing means that nonperishable staple goods are often shipped directly to consumers, leaving food markets free to focus on perishable, healthy food. In fact, as a result, markets are building modular, closed-door refrigerated sections.

Still, somewhere near the array of fresh fish, hills of broccoli crowns, or acres of Greek yogurt, you’ll find a few boxes of salt cod. Old favorites like that can be delicious, but they’re not to everyone’s taste. So if you turn up your nose at traditionally preserved foods like lutefisk, at least modern refrigeration gives you many more options.

This content was featured in the Chemical & Engineering News 12/17/18 issue.