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Very Cool Carl


June 11, 1842:  Carl von Linde Was Born



Linde was a German engineer who pioneered mechanical refrigeration.  His first refrigeration units were designed for the beer brewing industry.  Brewing lagers required low temperatures and were restricted to brewing in the winter months or in deep cellars with ice blocks.  Linde’s refrigerators made brewing a year-round process.BeerRacer IPA

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He also used his technique to liquify gases from air to obtain pure samples of elemental gases.

The discovery of oxygen and investigation of its role in chemical reactions was of crucial importance in changing the science of chemistry.  Initially, however, the discovery had little impact outside the laboratory, since oxygen could be produced only in the lab and in limited quantities, by chemical or electrolytic means.

It was the achievement of Carl von Linde to take oxygen from the air itself, and he was soon extracting it in quantities approaching one thousand cubic feet per hour. Oxygen became a common commodity that was supplied to hospitals and industries and was later used in rocket fuel, but this was not the German engineer’s first important contribution.

Early Ammonia Based Refrigerator

Early Ammonia Based Refrigerator

His research on heat theory, from 1873 to 1877, led to his invention of the first reliable and efficient compressed-ammonia refrigerator. The company he established to promote this invention was an international success: refrigeration rapidly displaced ice in food handling and was introduced into many industrial processes.

In 1895 he succeeded in liquefying air by first compressing it and then letting it expand rapidly, thereby cooling it.  He then obtained oxygen and nitrogen from the liquid air by slow warming.


In the early days of oxygen production the biggest use was the oxyacetylene torch, invented in France in 1904, which revolutionized metal cutting and welding in the construction of ships, skyscrapers, and other iron and steel structures.

Milestones in refrigeration:
1720 – Dr. William Cullen, a Scotsman, studied the evaporation of liquids in a vacuum
1820 – Michael Faraday, a Londoner, liquified ammonia to cause cooling
1852 – William Thomson & James Prescott cooling increases in proportion to the pressure difference
1859 – Ferdinand Carre of France, developed the first ammonia/water refrigeration machine
1871 – Carl von Linde of Germany published an essay on improved refrigeration techniques
1873 – Carl von Linde first practical and portable compressor refrigeration machine was built in Munich
1876 – Carl von Linde, early models he used methyl ether, but changed to an ammonia cycle
1878 – von Linde starts Lindes Eismaschinen AG, (Society for Lindes Ice Machines), now Linde AG
1894 – Linde developed a new method (Linde technique) for the liquefaction of large quantities of air.
1894 – Linde AG installs refrigerator at the Guinness brewery in Dublin, Ireland
1895 – Carl von Linde produced large amounts of liquid air using the Thomson-Joule effect.
1920 – there were some 200 different refrigerator models on the market.
1922 – Baltzar von Platen and Carl Munters introduce absorption process refrigerator
1923 – AB Arctic.begins production of refrigerators based on Platen-Munter’s invention
1925 – Electrolux purchases AB Arctic and launches the “D-fridge” on the world market
1925 – Steel and porcelain cabinets began appearing in the mid-20s
1927 – first refrigerator to see widespread use was the General Electric “Monitor-Top” refrigerator.
1931 – Dupont produced commercial quantities of R-12, trademarked as Freon
1931 – the first air-cooled refrigerator introduced by Electrolux
1946 – Mass production of modern refrigerators didn’t get started until after World War II.
1955 – 80% of American homes now have refrigerators
2005 – A domestic refrigerator is present in 99.5% of American homes

One company in the US formed to use Linde’s later patents was the Linde Air Products Company, founded in Cleveland in 1907 with 16 employees -it was the first oxygen production plant in the United States.  Linde Air Products sold not only oxygen but also acetylene and welding equipment.

In 1917 Linde Air Products joined with four other companies that produced acetylene, among other products, to form Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation.  In 1992, Linde Air again became an independent company—Praxair.praxair-logo-bg


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