Carl von Linde
Professor Doctor Carl Paul Gottfried von Linde (11 June 1842 - 16 November 1934) was a German engineer who developed refrigeration and gas separation technologies. Linde was a member of scientific and engineering associations, including being on the board of trustees of the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt
Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt
The Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt is based in Braunschweig and Berlin. It is the national institute for natural and engineering sciences and the highest technical authority for metrology and physical safety engineering in Germany....

 and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities
Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities
The Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities is an independent public institution, located in Munich. It appoints scholars whose research has contributed considerably to the increase of knowledge within their subject...


Early years

Born in Germany, as the son of a minister, Linde was expected to follow in his father's footsteps, but took another direction entirely. In 1861, he started a course in engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich
ETH Zurich
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich or ETH Zürich is an engineering, science, technology, mathematics and management university in the City of Zurich, Switzerland....

, Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, where his teachers included Rudolf Clausius
Rudolf Clausius
Rudolf Julius Emanuel Clausius , was a German physicist and mathematician and is considered one of the central founders of the science of thermodynamics. By his restatement of Sadi Carnot's principle known as the Carnot cycle, he put the theory of heat on a truer and sounder basis...

, Gustav Zeuner
Gustav Zeuner
Gustav Anton Zeuner was a German physicist, engineer and epistemologist, considered the founder of technical thermodynamics and of the Dresden School of Thermodynamics.-University and Revolution:...

 and Franz Reuleaux
Franz Reuleaux
Franz Reuleaux , was a mechanical engineer and a lecturer of the Berlin Royal Technical Academy, later appointed as the President of the Academy. He was often called the father of kinematics...


Linde graduated in early 1864, and Reuleaux found him a position as an apprentice at the Kottern cotton-spinning plant in Kempten
Kempten im Allgäu
Kempten is the largest town in Allgäu, a region in the south-west of Bavaria, Germany. The population was ca 61,000 in 2006. The area was possibly settled originally by Celts, but was later overtaken by the Romans, who called the town Cambodunum...

. Linde stayed only a short time before moving first to Borsig in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 and then to the new Krauss
George Krauss
George, Baron von Krauss was a German industrialist and the founder of the Krauss Locomotive Works in Munich, Germany and Linz, Upper Austria...

 locomotive factory in Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

, where he worked as head of the technical department. Von Linde married Helene Grimm in September 1866; their marriage lasted 53 years and they had six children.

In 1868 Linde learned of a new university opening in Munich (the Technische Hochschule
Technical University of Munich
The Technische Universität München is a research university with campuses in Munich, Garching, and Weihenstephan...

) and immediately applied for a job as a lecturer; he was accepted--at the age of 26--for the position. He became a full professor of mechanical engineering in 1872, and set up an engineering lab where students such as Rudolf Diesel
Rudolf Diesel
Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel was a German inventor and mechanical engineer, famous for the invention of the diesel engine.-Early life:Diesel was born in Paris, France in 1858 the second of three children of Theodor and Elise Diesel. His parents were Bavarian immigrants living in Paris. Theodor...


Middle years

In 1870 and 1871 Linde published articles in the Bavarian Industry and Trade Journal describing his research findings in the area of refrigeration
Refrigeration is a process in which work is done to move heat from one location to another. This work is traditionally done by mechanical work, but can also be done by magnetism, laser or other means...

Linde's first refrigeration plants were commercially successful, and development began to take up increasing amounts of his time. In 1879 he gave up his professorship and founded the Gesellschaft für Lindes Eismaschinen Aktiengesellschaft ("Linde's Ice Machine Company"), now Linde AG, in Wiesbaden
Wiesbaden is a city in southwest Germany and the capital of the federal state of Hesse. It has about 275,400 inhabitants, plus approximately 10,000 United States citizens...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. After a slow start in a difficult German economy, business picked up quickly in the 1880s. The efficient new refrigeration technology offered big benefits to the breweries and by 1890 Linde had sold 747 machines. In addition to the breweries, other uses for the new technology were found in slaughterhouses and cold storage facilities all over Europe.

In 1890, Linde moved back to Munich where he took up his professorship once more, but was soon back at work developing new refrigeration cycles. In 1892, an order from the Guinness
Guinness is a popular Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness at St. James's Gate, Dublin. Guinness is directly descended from the porter style that originated in London in the early 18th century and is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide, brewed in almost...

A brewery is a dedicated building for the making of beer, though beer can be made at home, and has been for much of beer's history. A company which makes beer is called either a brewery or a brewing company....

 in Dublin for a Carbon Dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

 liquefaction plant drove Linde's research into the area of low temperature refrigeration, and in 1894 he started work on a process for the liquefaction
Liquefaction may refer to:* Liquefaction, the general process of becoming liquid* Soil liquefaction, the process by which sediments become suspended* Liquefaction of gases in physics, chemistry, and thermal engineering* Liquefactive necrosis in pathology...

 of air. In 1895, Linde first achieved success, and filed for patent
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....

 protection of his process (not approved in the US until 1903). In 1901, Linde began work on a technique to obtain pure oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

 and nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

 based on the fractional distillation
Fractional distillation
Fractional distillation is the separation of a mixture into its component parts, or fractions, such as in separating chemical compounds by their boiling point by heating them to a temperature at which several fractions of the compound will evaporate. It is a special type of distillation...

 of liquefied air. By 1910 coworkers including Carl's son Friedrich had developed the Linde double-column process, variants of which are still in common use today.

After a decade Linde withdrew from managerial activities to refocus on research, and 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 by far for the gas was the oxyacetylene torch, invented in France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 in 1904, which revolutionized metal cutting and welding
Welding is a fabrication or sculptural process that joins materials, usually metals or thermoplastics, by causing coalescence. This is often done by melting the workpieces and adding a filler material to form a pool of molten material that cools to become a strong joint, with pressure sometimes...

 in the construction of ships, skyscraper
A skyscraper is a tall, continuously habitable building of many stories, often designed for office and commercial use. There is no official definition or height above which a building may be classified as a skyscraper...

s, and other iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 and steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...


In addition to Linde's technical and engineering abilities, he was a successful entrepreneur. He formed many successful partnership
A partnership is an arrangement where parties agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests.Since humans are social beings, partnerships between individuals, businesses, interest-based organizations, schools, governments, and varied combinations thereof, have always been and remain commonplace...

s in Germany and internationally, working effectively to exploit the value of his patents and knowledge through licensing arrangements. In 1906 Linde negotiated a stake in Brin's Oxygen Company (later The BOC Group
The BOC Group
The BOC Group plc was the official name of the multinational industrial gas and British based company more commonly known as BOC, and now a part of The Linde Group. In September 2004, BOC had over 30,000 employees on six continents, with sales of over £4.6 billion. BOC was a constituent of the...

) in exchange for rights to Linde's patents in the UK and other countries, and held a board position until 1914. Linde also formed the Linde Air Products Company in the USA in 1907, a company that passed through US Government control to Union Carbide
Union Carbide
Union Carbide Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company. It currently employs more than 2,400 people. Union Carbide primarily produces chemicals and polymers that undergo one or more further conversions by customers before reaching consumers. Some are high-volume...

 in the 1940s and on to form today's Praxair
Praxair, Inc. is the largest industrial gases company in North and South America and one of the largest worldwide. The company supplies atmospheric, process and specialty gases as well as high-performance coatings and related services to a wide diversity of customers around the world...


Later years and death

From around 1910 Linde started transferring responsibility for the company's operation to his sons Friedrich and Richard and to his son-in-law
Son-in-Law was a British Thoroughbred racehorse and an influential sire, especially for sport horses.The National Horseracing Museum says that Son-in-Law is "probably the best and most distinguished stayer this country has ever known." Described as "one of the principal influences for stamina in...

 Rudolf Wucherer. He continued with supervisory board and advisory duties until his death.

Carl von Linde died in Munich in November 1934 at the age of 92.

Key inventions

Linde's first refrigeration system used Dimethyl ether
Dimethyl ether
Dimethyl ether , also known as methoxymethane, is the organic compound with the formula . The simplest ether, it is a colourless gas that is a useful precursor to other organic compounds and an aerosol propellant. When combusted, DME produces minimal soot and CO, though HC and NOx formation is...

 as the refrigerant and was built by Maschinenfabrik Augsburg (now MAN AG) for the Spaten Brewery in 1873. He quickly moved on to develop more reliable ammonia
Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula . It is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent odour. Ammonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or...

-based cycles. These were early examples of vapor-compression refrigeration
Vapor-compression refrigeration
Vapor-compression refrigeration is one of the many refrigeration cycles available for use. It has been and is the most widely used method for air-conditioning of large public buildings, offices, private residences, hotels, hospitals, theaters, restaurants and automobiles...

 machines, and ammonia is still in wide use as a refrigerant
A refrigerant is a substance used in a heat cycle usually including, for enhanced efficiency, a reversible phase change from a liquid to a gas. Traditionally, fluorocarbons, especially chlorofluorocarbons, were used as refrigerants, but they are being phased out because of their ozone depletion...

 in industrial applications.

His apparatus for the liquefaction of air combined the cooling effect achieved by allowing a compressed gas to expand (the Joule-Thomson effect
Joule-Thomson effect
In thermodynamics, the Joule–Thomson effect or Joule–Kelvin effect or Kelvin–Joule effect describes the temperature change of a gas or liquid when it is forced through a valve or porous plug while kept insulated so that no heat is exchanged with the environment. This procedure is called a...

 first observed by James Prescott Joule
James Prescott Joule
James Prescott Joule FRS was an English physicist and brewer, born in Salford, Lancashire. Joule studied the nature of heat, and discovered its relationship to mechanical work . This led to the theory of conservation of energy, which led to the development of the first law of thermodynamics. The...

 and Lord Kelvin
William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin
William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin OM, GCVO, PC, PRS, PRSE, was a mathematical physicist and engineer. At the University of Glasgow he did important work in the mathematical analysis of electricity and formulation of the first and second laws of thermodynamics, and did much to unify the emerging...

) with a counter-current heat exchange technique that used the cold air produced by expansion to chill ambient air entering the apparatus. Over a period of time this effect gradually cooled the apparatus and air within it to the point of liquefaction.

Linde followed development of air liquefaction equipment with equipment that also separated air into its constituent parts using distillation
Distillation is a method of separating mixtures based on differences in volatilities of components in a boiling liquid mixture. Distillation is a unit operation, or a physical separation process, and not a chemical reaction....


Linde's inventions and developments spurred development in many areas of cryogenics
In physics, cryogenics is the study of the production of very low temperature and the behavior of materials at those temperatures. A person who studies elements under extremely cold temperature is called a cryogenicist. Rather than the relative temperature scales of Celsius and Fahrenheit,...

, physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

, chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

 and engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...



  • CH10704 -- Jan 31, 1896 -- Gasverflüssigungs-maschine (Machine for the liquefaction of gas) (in German) -- Switzerland
  • GB189512528 -- May 16, 1896 -- Process and Apparatus for Liquefying Gases or Gaseous Mixtures, and for Producing Cold, more particularly applicable for Separating Oxygen from Atmospheric Air -- UK -- May 12, 1903 -- Linde oxygen process -- USA -- May 12, 1903 -- Equipment for Linde oxygen process -- USA -- July 25, 1905 -- Equipment for Linde oxygen and nitrogen process --USA

Further reading

  • Carl von Linde: "Aus meinem Leben und von meiner Arbeit" (Memoirs: "From my life and about my work"), first published 1916, reprinted by Springer
    Springer Science+Business Media
    - Selected publications :* Encyclopaedia of Mathematics* Ergebnisse der Mathematik und ihrer Grenzgebiete * Graduate Texts in Mathematics * Grothendieck's Séminaire de géométrie algébrique...

     1984, ISBN 3-486-23411-0.

External links

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