A review of its Development and Manufacture
in the UK by J A E Heard.

J A E Heard (known as Archie)  joined Carrier Engineering Co. of London in the 1920s and trained in the USA before working in India. His account of the time he spent supervising the installation of the air conditioning system at the Khasbagh Palace in India is both informative and amusing. He served as a Lt-Col in India during WW II; afterwards returning to work in London. He became Sales Director and later Managing Director, continuing with Haden Carrier until his retirement.

Archie Heard became the first chairman of the Heritage Group (which was previously known as the IHVE Archaelogy  Working Party)

With the second world war ended the Carrier Engineering Company returned from evacuation at Boldney to resume their old offices at 24 Buckingham Gate London SW 1. Early in 1946 the question of refrigeration machine manufacture in UK caused much detailed discussion. Before the war Carrier Engineering Company had imported the compressors of the Carrier Centrifugal Refrigeration machine and the manufacture of the condenser and evaporator had been arranged in UK. However, this policy had one disadvantage in 1946 the dollar requirement for the import of the compressor. Therefore a full investigation was made of the types and sizes of compressors used in the years prior to the War with a view to the manufacture of the compressor in the UK. The investigation showed that the number of any particular type and size was low and that, therefore, the production would be one-off with the production order book not very attractive to any manufacturer.

While these centrifugal Refrigeration investigations were proceeding a visit to the United States revealed that Carrier Corporation had been concentrating during the War on the new development of absorption refrigeration. The principles of the absorption cooling cycle were recognised by Nairn as early as 1777. In 1850, Ferdinand Carré succeeded in making a continuous heat operated absorption machine using ammonia as the refrigerant and water as the absorbent. The refrigerant – absorbent combination was the only one which attained commercial importance during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Its popularity had declined because the use of a volatile component in the absorbent is conducive to high cost and poor efficiency and the hazardous nature had precluded its use in air conditioning. Its application had been restricted to commercial and industrial system with availability of low cost steam and in domestic refrigeration where the operating cost is not too large a factor. The Safety Car Heating and Lighting Company produced a small heat operated machine for refrigerated freight cars, using sulphur dioxide as the refrigerant and silica gel in the role of solid refrigerant.

Williams Oil-O-Matic developed a water chilling machine, capacities between 12 and 35 tons for air conditioning using methlyne chloride as the refrigerant and dimethyl ether of tin-ethylene glycol as the absorbent.


Servel Inc. pioneered a small absorption unit, 3 to 5 tons, using water as the refrigerant and lithium bromide as the absorbent.

A A Berestneff of Carrier Corporation headed an extensive research and development programme to realize the great potentialities of the absorption refrigeration principle. The programme was completed during the Second World War and an economical absorption machine for heavy-duty water chilling service was made commercially available and ready to compete with modern compression machinery.

As a result of a visit to the States in the autumn of 1946, Carrier Engineering Company decided to manufacture the Carrier Absorption Refrigeration Machine in UK, its factory was capable of the manufacture and there would be little or no need for dollar requirement for import of parts.

The original 1946 design was for 150 ton capacity, and used lithium bromide as the absorbent, was designed to chill water returning from the air conditioning coil. The machine was therefore an OPEN TYPE and all connections between it and the chilling surface had to be vacuum tight. This precluded its use in connection with either water spray type dehumidifiers without an intermediate exchanger or with long chilled water connections.

At Carrier Construction Company Wembley where the first 16B machines were produced, there had been considerable problems in post war UK to obtain material and production methods to follow US standards, but eventually by 1949 the first 16B5 machine was on test (eventually in 1950 this particular machine was installed for the first TV studio at Lime Grove) and its success was followed during the next five years by the manufacture of twenty two machines for clients as diverse as J Lyons & Co, I.C.I, Anglo Iranian, Iraq Petroleum Company.


During this period the limitations of the open type machine forced Carrier Corporation to design a closed machine with the chilled water circuit being completely within the machine thus cutting out the necessity for vacuum type connections external to the machine. The change to the closed machine 16C was made in 1956, including dispensing with the two-stage steam and water purge, replacing this with a lithium bromide solution purge and at the same time cheapening the machine construction by dispensing with a considerable quantity of stainless steel. Thirty four (34)C type machines were manufactured and installed by Carrier Manufacturing Company up to the year 1962.

Machines were designed up to 500 tons capacity.

Although in 1962 the 16E Type machine was developed, very few machines were produced either in UK or USA. In fact the next major change from the 16C Type was the 16H machine. This was a major attempt to make the machine hermetic and these latter machines were tested at Carrier Construction Company Wembley with a mass spectrometer.

Machines were now designed up to 1000 tons capacity.


From 1961 to 1971 thirty six (36) machines HA Type of various sizes were manufactured and installed while from 1971 to 1976 twenty six (26) JA Type of various sizes and sixty three (63) JB Type were manufactured and installed.

However, during this period, the UK cost of production was considerably higher than that in the USA and since there was no longer any difficulty with dollar exchange, all Carrier Absorption Refrigeration machines are imported from the USA for UK and Europe.        

MARCH  2006