Sunday, July 12, 2020

Yackchal, an ancient refrigerator back in thousand years ago.

Some yackchal is bigger than the other, such as this one in Meybod, Iran. Photo: fieldstudyoftheworld.com

Refrigerator use a high amount of electrical energy in order to produce ice. Since the invention of modern refrigerator early 1800's, we never thought that people living in the past were able to have a similar invention in order to keep their food fresh longer.

It's depend on the climate of the area, people learn to preserve their foods in different ways. In the tropic regions, for example, foods are preserved by drying it with salt, or keep it in an acidic solution (turn it into a pickle).

Anyway, long time ago in, middle eastern region such as Persia, they have unique building that called Yackchal, (Persian: یخچال‎ "ice pit"; yakh meaning "ice" and chāl meaning "pit") that works same as refrigerator today. The wonderful thing about this building is, it's using the power of climate and water to trap the cold temperature and store it during the hot summer day.

Yackchal near Kerman, Iran. Photo: wikipedia
 

The interior of yackchal. Photo: thevintagenews.com

Even though there are different building that called ice house that used in some countries (Europe or ancient China). Yakhchāl, was built in the areas where the temperature can get really high that require active heat transfer to take place. Compared to modern invention that using a compressor and fan, yakhchāl manipulate the natural energy to produce similar effects.

The construction of yakhchāl was started as soon as 400 BCE. During that time, Persian engineers already able to build this unique building that able to trap the cold temperature during the winter season and retain it until the summer season. It's  not only the shape of the yakhchāl is important, but also the materials used in its construction help it to isolate the heat from get into it.

The wall of yakhchāl is built with unique water-resistant mortar called sarooj, composed of sand, clay, egg whites, lime, goat hair, and ash, that is resistant to heat and at the same time water-impenetrable. While the thickness of the wall will reach up to two meters thick at the base.

Faloodeh, traditional Iranian dessert. Photo: thevintagenews.com
 

The most common feature of yakhchāls, is they have access to qanat  (Iranian aqueduct), while sometimes they equipped with a system of bâdgirs (ancient design of windcatchers or wind towers). This additional design help further cool down the temperature to frigid levels during the summer days. So, there are some varieties in its architecture.

The usage of yakhchāls, will allow the ice created in it during the winter to be used throughout the summer. This will help people to keep their foods in it, but also prepare special dessert such as faloodeh, the traditional Persian ice cream.

By mimicking this special architecture, there are many applications can be used in today's world, especially in building more energy efficiency building. Most of our modern inventions relying too much on the usage of electrical energy - that also require to be generated by other sources (such as coals, hydroelectric, solar, wind, thermal and etc.). Imagine if yakhchāl's principal is used instead. How wonderful the future can be?

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