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Mary Engle Pennington, Food Refrigeration Engineer

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.312.1 - 1.312.8

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Paper Authors

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Karl D. Stephan

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3161

Mary Engle Pennington, Food Refrigeration Engineer

Karl D. Stephan Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst t Amherst, MA 01003

One evening not long before the due date of this paper, as I pondered, weak and weary, over volumes of forgotten copies of Ice and Refrigeration, I put my head down on the library carrel and closed my eyes. I was awakened (or so I thought) by a touch on my shoulder, I looked up to see a woman of indeterminate age, slightly shorter than average, who was wearing a gray silk dress, a cloak, and a single string of pearls. She looked at me intently through rimless glasses, identified herself as Mary Pennington, and asked me if I was going to the ASEE conference in Washington next June. When I replied in the affirmative, she asked me to convey her greetings to all of you. I should explain that she is no longer able to attend in person, having passed away in 1952 at the age of eighty. But in the dream (for that it what it was), this fact troubled me not at all, and I proceeded to interview her for the next hour and a half.

During our conversation I found that I wasn’t able to tell her much that she didn’t know already about the current status of engineering in her field. In her former life she was an expert in the refrigeration of foods, but where she lives now it seems that decay is no longer a problem. So she spends much of her time talking with the recent arrivals and keeping up with progress in refi-igeration around the world.

The recent development that pleases her the most is the fact that millions who live in the hottest parts of the world can now hope to benefit from the refrigeration of food, as electric utilities and home refrigeration spread throughout southern Asia and sub-% haran Africa. Then she asked me how international compliance with the Montreal Protocol was going, and I had to admit I didn’t know. It turns out that the Montreal Protocol is the international agreement to reduce and ultimately eliminate the production of chlorofluorocarbons which harm the ozone layer. She told me that she feels in some small way responsible for CFCS, and I asked her why.

“Well, as you may recall, Thomas Midgely, fresh from his discovery of the lead additive for ‘ethyl’ antiknock gasoline, developed the first chlorofluorocarbon refrigerant when he was working for Frigidaire in Dayton, Ohio, in 1930.1 At the time ‘freon’, as it came to be called, was hailed as a triumph of modem applied research. Frigidaire and the other manufacturers soon began to use it in mechanical domestic refrigerators. My work made refrigerated foods more widely available. As the market for mechanical refrigerators grew rapidly, so did the use of CFCS. ” 1 “By ‘mechanical’ refrigerators, PU mean ones that run on externally supplied power, such as electricity or gas?”

“Yes.” I

:iiiii’ ‘.p~c,~ } 1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings .

Stephan, K. D. (1996, June), Mary Engle Pennington, Food Refrigeration Engineer Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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