Carrier celebrates 100 years of the centrifugal chiller


11 May 2022
Willis Carrier is shown in 1950, with the first centrifugal chiller built, then running for 27 years at the Onondaga Pottery Company in Syracuse, New York

Carrier is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the invention of a machine that it says in many ways made the modern world possible.

On the evening of May 22, 1922, 300 people were invited by Willis Haviland Carrier to a sheet metal shop in Newark, New Jersey, for a free meal and a boxing match followed by the unveiling of the first centrifugal chiller technology.

Carrier’s idea to combine a centrifugal refrigeration compressor with a shell, a new type of condenser and a chiller on one frame enhanced process cooling in factories around the world. Following the first installation of three centrifugal chillers at a Philadelphia chocolate factory in 1923, Carrier’s innovation soon provided process cooling to rayon manufacturers in India and cracker factories in Mexico. 

In 1924, Carrier realised his dream of comfort cooling when the owners of a Detroit department store added centrifugal chillers. The centrifugal technology reliably and affordably delivered comfort air to the public in theaters, stores, restaurants, sports venues, ships, hospitals and office buildings. 

A decade later centrifugal refrigeration had driven process air into more than 200 industries. Food and beverage production became safer, hospitals were more comfortable and sanitary and new lifesaving drugs, such as penicillin became possible.

Content continues after advertisements

Gaurang Pandya, president, Commercial HVAC, said: “Carrier’s breakthrough invention opened the door to large-scale comfort air conditioning while improving the effectiveness of process cooling. Each day we build on that legacy, innovating with purpose to create what’s next, get ahead of changing requirements, unleash the power of digital technology, run smarter with IoT and help customers deploy commercial HVAC solutions aligned tightly with their business objectives.”

By providing precise temperature and humidity, centrifugal chiller technology has  supported the infrastructure of the modern digital age, including electronics of every type, semi-conductor chips, data centers and robotics. These new inventions and new technologies couldn’t have existed without it. 

While the fundamental physics of centrifugal technology have not changed in a century, Carrier engineers have never stopped driving new advancements in centrifugal chiller technology. Today, the Carrier AquaEdge 19DV water-cooled chiller provides world class energy-efficiency with its unique free cooling and heat recovery options that boost the total energy savings of the system while using ultra-low global warming potential refrigerant. The AquaEdge 19MV water-cooled chiller offers a wide operating range in a greatly reduced machine size to replace older chillers. Both machines feature the unique EquiDrive two-stage back-to-back compressor technology to dramatically reduce energy consumption. 

To learn more about the history of the centrifugal chiller, visit