Channel 19

Todd Dills

Reefer-unit pioneer to be honored tomorrow

| November 02, 2010

News from Thermo King today is that Frederick McKinley Jones, a company pioneer in the development of portable refrigeration units, will be honored  for his contributions to science and technology at the Tekne Awards gala Wed., Nov. 3, at 7 p.m. at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Jones passed away in 1961, but his “invention of portable refrigeration systems for the transportation industry revolutionized the food industry into a multibillion-dollar annual market,” Thermo King says, enabling “improved food safety and quality and forever [changing] the eating habits of the world.” Jones is being inducted there into the Minnesota Science and Technology Hall of Fame.

More about Jones (pictured), from Thermo King:
Jones revolutionized the refrigeration and transportation industry with the invention of the first practical and automatic refrigeration unit for trucks and railcars in 1935, which improved food safety and quality by eliminating the problem of food spoilage over long hauls and thus expanded the availability of food to people the world over.

Jones’ innovations and advancements in the refrigeration industry have been credited with the creation of an international commercial market for food. The ability to safely transport food across vast distances led to the development of the frozen foods industry and fast-food chains, and altered the eating habits of consumers throughout the world.

Fredrick Jones is often thought of as one of the most prolific African American inventors in U.S. history. In 1991, Jones was the first African American to be recognized by the United States government with the National Medal of Technology. During his career, Jones was granted more than 40 patents in the field of refrigeration, including an air-conditioning unit for military field hospitals and a refrigerator for military field kitchens. In addition, Jones patented other inventions including many for the emerging film industry. Frederick Jones received more than 60 patents during his lifetime.

On July 30, 2007, Thermo King opened the Fredrick McKinley Jones Research and Development Center at its Bloomington, Minn., headquarters facility.  The center features more than 40,000 square feet and $8 million in state-of-the-art equipment and capabilities for the design, testing and evaluation of products, systems and components for the transportation industry. Today, Thermo King engineers and researchers are continuing Jones’ work to improve the efficiency of portable refrigerated units to ensure a more sustainable world.

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