AIRAH celebrates inaugural World Refrigeration Day

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The first annual World Refrigeration Day is taking place today, Wednesday, June 26.

Acknowledging the day on which refrigeration pioneer Lord Kelvin was born, World Refrigeration Day raises the profile of the important contribution that refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pumps make globally across many aspects of modern life.

“From medical applications to food supply and farming, process engineering to data and IT, refrigeration technologies are essential and yet go widely unrecognised,” says AIRAH CEO Tony Gleeson, M.AIRAH. 

“World Refrigeration Day serves as a means of raising awareness and understanding to the general public of the significant role that the industry and its technology play in modern life. World Refrigeration Day provides a chance to acknowledge our industry’s history, recognise its essential role in our lives, and to envision its future.”

Associations and societies from the US, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, Australia, Africa and across Europe are all supporting the inaugural World Refrigeration Day.

“AIRAH is proud to support the inaugural World Refrigeration Day,” Gleeson says. “In this celebration we must not forget our very own heritage, with James Harrison’s work in Geelong in Victoria producing the very first mechanical form of refrigeration, earning him recognition as the “Godfather of Refrigeration”.

A Scotsman by birth and printer by trade, Harrison emigrated to Sydney in 1837. He later moved to Victoria. After establishing the Geelong Advertiser in 1840, he became an inaugural member of the Geelong Council in 1850. A man of eclectic talents, skills and interests, Harrison had also long been intrigued by the science of refrigeration.

While cleaning the Geelong Advertiser’s movable type on printing presses with sulfuric ether, he realised the chemical could have other uses. This led to experimentation with the ether and a whorl coil, sourced from a heating apparatus. Through a partnership with blacksmith John Scott, he would later establish an ice works on the banks of the Barwon River at Rocky Point.

In recognition of his achievements, AIRAH presents the James Harrison Medal at the annual AIRAH Awards. It is the most prestigious honour AIRAH can bestow upon an individual, and recognises the highest levels of achievement in the Australian refrigeration and air conditioning industry. First presented in 1972 to Dr James Vickery for his worthy contributions to the science and practice of refrigeration in Australia, it has since been awarded to many notable members of the industry. 

AIRAH recognises James Harrison Day every April 17.

For more information about World Refrigeration Day, go to