Common refrigeration equipment decreases the temperature of a fluid to create a cool environment. Shown below is an example of an outdoor walk-in refrigeration chamber.

(Copyright Manitowoc Foodservice, Parsons, TN)


Industrial refrigeration spans a temperature range of -157°C to 4°C. The more common vapor compression refrigeration uses chemicals such as CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and HFCs (halogenated hydrocarbons) to mechanically cool materials by expansion and compression. Absorption refrigeration, which is less common in industry, uses mostly ammonia and lithium bromide to cool materials. Shown below is an example of an environment chamber that uses refrigeration in the stress testing of materials.

(Copyright Cincinnati Sub-Zero Products, Inc., Cincinnati, OH)


All vapor compression refrigeration cycles have four major components: a compressor, a condenser, an expansion valve, and an evaporator. For larger operations, refrigeration can have more than one cycle, but the same principles and technology are always used.

(Copyright Berg Chilling Systems, Inc., Toronto, Ontario)

The pictures below show the individual components of the refrigeration cycle.



Expansion Valve

(Pictures Copyright Emerson Climate Technologies Incorporated, Sidney, OH)
(Copyright Advantage Engineering Inc., Greenwood, IN)

There are three main types of compressors used for vapor compression refrigeration cycles: centrifugal compressors (left), reciprocating compressors (middle), and wet rotary screw compressors (right). Compressors are explained in more depth in the Compressors section.

Centrifugal Compressor

Reciprocating Compressor

Wet Rotary Screw Compressor

(Copyright Cameron, Houston, TX)

(Pictures Copyright Emerson Climate Technologies Incorporated, Sidney, OH)


The most familiar use of refrigeration is in domestic appliances, such as the household refrigerator shown below on the left. Another example of domestic refrigeration systems is air conditioning systems for houses or rooms. Refrigeration is also used in commercial systems. Examples include cafeteria and restaurant displays, as shown below on the right.

(Copyright Whirlpool Corporation,
Benton Harbor, MI)
(Copyright Arneg USA, Lexington, NC)

Warehouses, factories, and plants use refrigeration for cold storage and food processing. Refrigerated cabinets, chillers, or walk-in refrigeration chambers may be used.

Indoor Air Cooled Portable Chiller

(Copyright Berg Chilling Systems, Inc., Toronto, Ontario)

Walk-In Refridgeration Chamber

(Copyright Manitowoc Foodservice, Parsons, TN)

Industrial examples of refrigeration include chemical process cooling and crystallization and liquefication of gases. Shown below is a standard refrigeration chamber used for research and development of chemicals and materials. The rapid temperature change these chambers provide allow for reduced development time as well as improved product reliability.

(Copyright Cincinnati Sub-Zero Products, Inc., Cincinnati, OH)

Another common use of refrigeration is in transportation. Refrigeration systems can be loaded on trucks or trailers to transport and distribute items such as food and marine containers.

(Copyright Kidron, Washington, NC)
(Copyright Great Western Transportation, Pleasanton, CA)



  • Wide selection of refrigeration equipment and refrigerants allow for the best possible system for any given situation.
  • Need for greater temperature drop usually leads to a less efficient system due to the large heat transfer.


Advantage Engineering Inc., Greenwood, IN

Arneg USA, Lexington, NC

Cameron, Houston, TX

Cincinnati Sub-Zero Products, Inc., Cincinnati, OH

Emerson Climate Technologies Incorporated, Sidney, OH

Great Western Transportation, Pleasanton, CA

Kidron, Washingtong, NC

Manitowoc Foodservice, Parsons, TN

Whirlpool Corporation, Benton Harbor, MI


Dossat, Roy J. Principles of Refrigeration. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1997: 86-101. Print

Koelet, Pieter C. Industrial Refrigeration: Principles, Design, and Applications. England:      Macmillan, 1992. Print

Langley, Billy C. Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration. New Jersey:      Prentice Hall, 1990. Print

Olivo, C. Thomas. Principles of Refrigeration. New York: Delmar Publishers, 1990. Print

Perry, Robert H. and Don W. Green. Perry's Chemical Engineers' Handbook. 7th ed. New      York: McGraw-Hill, 1998: 11-77 - 11-87. Print

Refrigeration and Air-conditioning. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1998: 30-36. Print

Sibley, Howard W.. "Refrigeration." Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology. 4th ed. New York:      John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1993. Print

Walas, Stanley M.. Chemical Process Equipment Selection and Design. Massachusetts:      Butterworth-Heinemann, 1990: 224-227. Print


Matthew Skindzier

Keith Minbiole

Return to Top