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Updated: Nov. 24th, 2007

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Arrangement of brine piping in a refrigerated hold of a cargo ship of Titanic’s era. Author’s collection

Arrangement of brine piping in a refrigerated hold of a cargo ship of Titanic’s era. Author’s collection

Brine Pipes and Grating in ‘Tween Decks Cargo Space - Typical arrangement of brine piping in the ‘tween deck area of a cargo ship of the era. Author’s collection.

Brine Pipes and Grating in ‘Tween Decks Cargo Space - Typical arrangement of brine piping in the ‘tween deck area of a cargo ship of the era. Author’s collection

Cargo Space for Chilled Meat. Author’s collection

Cargo space for chilled meat in a ship of the era. Notice that the pieces are hung rather then stacked. Author’s collection

   Introduction - All large ocean-going passenger steamers were provided with refrigerating machinery and insulated chambers for carrying fresh meat for consumption during the voyage; many steamers were also equipped to carry cargoes of frozen or chilled meat. Titanic carried a large array of food and perishables, all requiring refrigeration at various temperatures in separate compartments: fruit, flowers, fish, mutton, eggs, butter and poultry, to name just a few. Some of these were required in large quantities: the amount of butter alone was 6,000 lbs, and the amount of beef totaled 75,000 lbs. Titanic was fitted with freezers for both east-bound and west-bound beef, both freezers sharing a separate and adjoining Thawing Room. This was indicative of the huge amount of food that was carried and the concern over freshness.

   The holds and store rooms devoted to this purpose were insulated and, depending on requirements, were kept merely cooled or at freezing or near-freezing temperatures throughout the voyage. Titanic’s refrigerating equipment was designed to the White Star Line’s specifications and not only provided for the cooling of the ship’s provision rooms and pantry larders, but also cooled drinking water supplied to cupboard coolers and various points throughout the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Class accommodations. Space was also provided for refrigerated cargo at the aft end of the Orlop Deck, with a capacity providing for about 40 cubic feet per ton
. . . (continued)


General Refrigeration Fittings. Author’s collection

Image left, General Refrigeration Fittings - This schematic diagram shows a Hall's refrigeration plant designed and installed aboard a Harland & Wolff-built steamer. All of the basic equipment and connections shown here were present in the much larger installation fitted aboard Titanic, although the equipment differed in certain details, was spread out over a greater area and occupied space on several decks. In this diagram, two refrigerating engines of the simplex type are shown, whereas each of the machines on Titanic were of the duplex type. A common surface steam condenser is indicated for each machine in the diagram, while each of the duplex machines on Titanic had its own independent steam condenser. A single evaporator is shown here, while Titanic had two duplex evaporators for a total of four, and these, along with the brine pumps, were located remotely from the refrigeration engines. Note that this diagram only deals with the steam supply, return feed and steam condenser circuits of the installation - those portions which the shipyard engineers would have been responsible for - and not the brine circulation and return system, which was entirely the responsibility of the refrigeration plant contractor. Author’s collection


Refrigeration machinery - The refrigeration units were of the “CO2” type, utilizing this gas (carbon dioxide) in its compressed form instead of air. The CO2 liquefied when cooled, at which point it was passed through a coil of iron piping located within a tank containing brine (a solution of chloride of calcium). Within this coil the CO2 absorbed heat from the brine, expanded and reassumed its gaseous form at about -10 F. The surrounding brine became quickly chilled in turn and, when reduced to about 0 F, was withdrawn by a pump and circulated through the circuits or “grids” of piping that ran under the decks and along the upper parts of the vessel’s sides to the refrigerated compartments. Separate grid sections within each compartment were interlaced so that if one part were to fail, it would not cause a loss of cooling to an entire wall or ceiling. Grid sections were fastened in place with hanger bolts and angle iron supports and were not to exceed approximately 1,200 feet each in length . . . (continued)

   Insulation - With regard to refrigerated holds and store rooms on a ship, insulation could be described as the covering of the exposed steelwork of the hull with a thick layer of non-conducting material so that nowhere would the cold air of the hold come in contact with it. Since steel is a conductor and is warmed by the outside air and sea water, it could rapidly extract and dissipate the cold within the refrigerated compartments. The thoroughness of the insulation, or, in other words, the thickness and continuity of the layer of non-conducting material was paramount to its effectiveness. Once the hold and the cargo were chilled to the required temperature, if the hold were well-insulated both it and cargo within would remain at that temperature with little necessity for further refrigeration . . . (continued)

Copyright 2007 Beveridge, Hall, Andrews, Klistorner and Braunschweiger.

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