Einstein’s Refrigerator: who invented it?


Science and technology exposed
The Einstein Szilard Patents

Who Invented the Einstein Refrigerator?

The basic story tells of Albert Einstein, disturbed by reports of exploding refrigerators and toxic gas, decided to apply his superior mind to the invention of a safer and more efficient machine as an act of humanitarian charity. As a piece of factual history, the evidence places it somewhere below that of Santa Clause. It was not Einstein’s or Szilard’s original idea and it used ammonia gas, every bit as toxic as those on the market at the time. There are those who nurture such fabrications because there is a need to attach things more tactile to a name who’s achievements do nothing to influence their daily lives. They seem to have a desperate need for a saviour, albeit one who’s only genuine claim to fame is that he provided endless jobs for mathematicians and physicists.

Einstein’s Refrigerator

“(Einstein’s patent) US1781541,GB282428 of 1926) was an absorption refrigerator as shown below. It was derived from the absorption refrigeration system devised by the Swedes Baltazar Carl von Platen and Carl George Munters (US1685764, GB250983) and was manufactured by AB Arctic who were taken-over by Electrolux in 1926. The important innovations in their refrigerators were non-moving parts by elimination of the pump, silent operation and reliability. However, the Einstein-Szilard refrigerator used ammonia gas as a medium in the refrigerating process.”
If we now go to the Scribd link above we find the document ‘Albert Einstein’s Patents’ has now been deleted for whatever reason!
This one is also now unavailable:
See also Scientific American
Wiki: “An absorption refrigerator is a refrigerator that uses a heat source, e.g., solar, kerosene-fueled flame, waste heat from factories or district heating systems, (not an electromagnetic pump as the story goes) to provide the energy needed to drive the cooling system.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absorption_refrigerator

Einstein fridge

The Einstein-Szilard refrigerator patent of 1930

At a talk delivered at the Leo Szilard Centenary Eötvös University, Budapest, Hungary 9 February 1998, Gene Dannen explains that Albert Korodi aka (Albert Kornfeld) was the primary engineer for the Einstein-Szilard refrigerators, and his knowledge of their development was unique. As a result of information that Korodi provided me, I was able to publish the story of the Einstein-Szilard refrigerators last year in Scientific American magazine.”
The Dannen article is no longer on the Scientific American link. I get a distinct feeling that there are those who don’t want us to read about Einstein’s refrigerator!!!

It’s quite obvious that neither Einstein nor Szilard invented the absorption refrigerator as we can also see below. We are told that they made improvements, some kind of electromagnetic pump, or did they?

aps.org, confidently but wrongly tells us that: “One of the components they designed for their refrigerator was the Einstein-Szilard electromagnetic pump, which had no moving parts, relying instead on generating an electromagnetic field by running alternating current through coils. The field moved a liquid metal, and the metal, in turn, served as a piston and compressed a refrigerant. The rest of the process worked much like today,s conventional refrigerators. http://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/201011/physicshistory.cfm
There is no sign of an electromagnetic pump in the refrigerator patent. The one used in nuclear reactors must have come from elsewhere.

Patent GB303065 (A) – Electrodynamic movement of fluid metals particularly for refrigerating machines
Applicant(s): ALBERT EINSTEIN; LEO SZILARD + (We are not told what the plus means)

Einstein/Szilard Electrodynamic Pump patent
This patent for the pump uses mercury, a highly toxic substance that negates the original and untrue story of the invention — to make it safe. But also it ceases to be the Einstein absorption refrigerator because it is no longer driven by a heat source, but by electricity.

answers.com asks: What did Albert Einstein invent and when?
Answer: He co-invented a type of refrigerator with no moving parts; patent number 1781541. (Also) An electromagnetic pump; patent number GB303065, http://wiki.answers.com
As we can see , the pump was a separate patent GB303065 and although it may have been applied to a refrigerator at a later date, it is not present in the original Einstein refrigerator patent. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Einstein_Refrigerator.png

Einstein Szilard Pump
Einstein Szilard Pump

Wiki: “It has been suggested that most of the actual inventing was performed by Szilard, with Einstein merely acting as a consultant and helping with the patent-related paperwork. The refrigerator was not immediately put into commercial production, the most promising of their patents being quickly bought up by the Swedish company Electrolux. A few demonstration units were constructed from other patents. (They had a tame engineer to do the work and even then it was never put into commercial production)
Reference: Dannen, Geene (1997), “The Einstein-Szilard Refrigerators”, Scientific American 276 : 9095″ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einstein_refrigerator#cite_note-1
See also:
The idea presents itself that maybe Einstein and Szilard were looking for patentable ideas solely for moneymaking purposes. The refrigerator patent was sold to Electrolux and Einstein was something of an expert in the subject of patents and maybe not really interested in inventing? Theorists theorise and don’t usually invent anything. In fact the total number of academic scientists who have come-up with an original invention is extremely small.

1805 Vapor-compression refrigeration
The method used by Einstein et al was not new and there are several claimants to the same invention: The American inventor Oliver Evans, acclaimed as the “father of refrigeration,” invented the vapor-compression refrigeration machine in 1805. Heat would be removed from the environment by recycling vaporized refrigerant, where it would move through a compressor and condenser and would eventually revert back to a liquid form in order to repeat the refrigeration process over again. However, no such refrigeration unit was built by Evans.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vapor-compression_refrigeration#History

Edmund and Ferdinand Carr “…developed the first absorption refrigerator, using water and sulphuric acid. Ferdinand continued Edmond’s work on the process and in 1858 developed a machine which used water as the absorbent and ammonia as refrigerant (just like Einstein’s). His absorption machine was patented in France in 1859 and in the United States in 1860. In 1862 he exhibited his ice-making machine at the Universal London Exhibition, producing an output of 200 kilograms (440 lb) per hour. His design was based on the gas/vapour system.”

Wiki: 1925 Carl Georg Munters, Baltzar von Platen and John Tandberg Together with Baltzar von Platen and John Tandberg, Munters invented the gas absorption refrigerator for domestic use. His intention was to create an easy-to-use refrigerator without any moving parts. The technique produced “cold” from a heat source such as propane, electricity, or kerosene. The team rented a room and worked into the wee hours. They slept in the mornings and cut classes from the Royal Institute of Technology where they were students at the time. It took them about a year to create a first prototype that worked with self-circulation. The prototype still had one moving part, a ball valve, and was big and clumsy. Eventually the prototype was improved and their cooling solution was a world sensation. Albert Einstein once mentioned how astonished he was by their ingenious solution. The manufacturing of the refrigerator was begun in 1923 by the company AB Arctic. In 1925, development was finished, and the company was bought out by Electrolux.”
The Einstein refrigerator was patented in 1930.

Two patents that are embodied in a domestic refrigerator are the subject of a petition, the hearing of which is expected to take Mr. Justice Starke, in the High Court of Australia, at least a week. Seven counsel, including three K.C.’s, are engaged in the case. The petitioners are Baltazar Carl von Platen, Carl Georg Munters, Olaf Sigmund Tillqulst, all of Sweden; Platen Munters Refrigerating System Aktlebolag, of Stockholm; Aktlebolaget Electrolux, of Stockholm; and Pty. Ltd, of Bourke street, Melbourne. They seek an extension of two patents used in the refrigerator. Both patents have expired.
Mr. Wilbur Ham, K.C., leading counsel for the petitioners, said that this was virtually an application for a new grant of letters patent under section 84 of the Patent Act. The normal life of a patent was 16 years, unless special circumstances could be shown. Australian patents for domestic refrigerators were taken out in 1923, but they were not a commercial success until 1937-38. There were structural difficulties which had prevented this machine from becoming profitable in a commercial sense. In the last two years there had been a great demand for the machine in Australia, and there had been a high margin of profit. The petitioners claimed that the introduction of domestic refrigerators had been very beneficial to the public.

von Platen Munters fridge
von Platen Munters Fridge

Andy Delano who recently built an Einstein refrigerator: “He calls it “Einstein’s refrigerator.” “It’s basically an absorption-type refrigerator that uses ammonia, water and butane to create a chemical phenomenon (Nothing like the one with the electromagnetic pump that uses mercury) that allows you to run the whole thing at a constant pressure, so you don’t need moving parts like a pump or a compressor,” Delano explains. “It provides cooling with only heat as an input. Literally, you heat one end and the other end gets cold.”
Delano may patent some of his improvements, but says he harbors no illusions about the refrigerator’s future. “It’s neat; it’s quite interesting, but it’s not going to revolutionize anything. I will probably do some more research on my own, but I’ll still be looking for a job when I get out of school.”

The microscope that reduces everything to ashes
The electron microscope, more of the Einstein-Szilard scam and yet another inappropriate Nobel prize

Basically a simple device, the electron microscope works just like an optical microscope, but uses electrons rather than light. In its simplest form, the electrons from the cathode of a cathode ray tube are focused by passing them through the magnetic field of a permanent magnet or a charged coil of wire. They may also be focused by electrostatic plates. Whatever the method used, they all function as a magnetic lens.
The problem is, that unlike light, the electron beam tends to burn any non-conducting samples. This means that any biological samples need to be plated with gold, osmium, or some other metallic conducting material and what is viewed is an artifact of the original. The original unprotected non-conducting sample would simply be baked to a cinder.

The Einstein Szilard Patent Scam
In the 1920’s the electron microscope was a patent waiting to happen. If one examines the Crookes Maltese Cross cathode ray tube, it becomes obvious that electrons can be used to magnify objects, just like light waves. Focusing was well understood by the twenties and so all of the components for an electron microscope were available and awaiting assembly. Leo Szilard and Albert Einstein were not slow when it came to spotting a good patent idea and as we will discover, it was duly patented by the dynamic duo in 1931.

Crookes Tube
Crookes Tube

The meeting of minds
Twenty years earlier (1921), “Szilard enrolled in a physics class taught by Einstein, (Szilard was a trained engineer) and in 1927, he and Einstein started a seven-year collaboration to patent inventions that were not their own ideas that included a home refrigerator without moving parts.
Not just the refrigerator but various other ideas also invented by other people, Einstein and Szilard colluded in a lucrative patent racket. Einstein, the patent expert, having become famous, was in a position to ransack the ideas of all and sundry and Szilard being the engineering brains of the outfit, was able to spot a winner and, as we will discover, do some ransacking on his own. They would collect the promising ideas of others and patent them in order to clean-up when the ideas became commercially viable.

Szilard Patents: U.S. Patent 2,708,656—Neutronic reactor—E. Fermi, L. Szilárd, filed December 19,1944, issued May 17, 1955 U.S. Patent 1,781,541—Einstein Refrigerator—co-developed with Albert Einstein filed in 1926, issued November 11, 1930 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le%C3%B3_Szil%C3%A1rd
and here: http://www.bekkoame.ne.jp/~o-pat/english2.htm

“In 1916, Leo Szilard began engineering studies at Budapest Technical University until he was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army. In 1919, he returned to his studies and transferred to the Institute of Technology in Berlin. Leo Szilard switched from engineering to physics, and was taught by Albert Einstein, Max Planck, and Max von Laue. In 1923, Szilard received his Ph.D. degree in physics from the Humboldt University of Berlin.”

Dannen again: “This was the start of a collaboration that lasted seven years. In all, Einstein and Szilard would file more than 45 patent applications in at least six countries. In the end, none of their refrigerator designs would reach consumers. On the other hand, the income supported Szilard in Germany, and his savings supported his later research in Britain. One of their inventions, the Einstein-Szilard pump, later found a higher use cooling breeder reactors.” http://www.dannen.com/budatalk.html

According to progressmedia.ca: “Szilard interrogated experts in any field that caught his interest, learning by asking the most basic questions.”

“Between 1925 and 1933, he (Szilard) applied for numerous patents, often with Albert Einstein. In London he collaborated with T.A. Chalmers at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. There they developed the Szilard-Chalmers process, a technique to chemically separate radioactive elements from their stable isotopes. Much of Szilard’s activity during this period related to his efforts to register his patents in England and to secure income with the help of the firm of Claremont, Haynes, and Company. …Much of Szilard’s research funding came from contracts and grants with organizations such as the National Advisory Health Council and the Office of Naval Research. He also worked as a consultant to private industry, and his patents for a “liquid-liquid extractor” were used by Podbielniak, Inc.”

In 1931 Leo Szilard filed a German patent application on the electron microscope.
aps.org says: “Einstein wasn’t a stranger to the patent process, either, having worked as a patent clerk in Bern as a young man. He later received a patent with a German engineer named Rudolf Goldschmidt in 1934 for a working prototype of a hearing aid.” http://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/201011/physicshistory.cfm

All I’ve read on the subject of Einstein’s patents, paint a picture of him having a humanitarian motive rather than just money-making. No one checks to see if he actually invented them. The same applies to Leo Szilard and the usual standards don’t apply because of Einstein’s celebrity. The writer has no objection to moneymaking, but there are other issues here; double standards are employed where intellectual property is concerned and these standards are endorsed by academics. “Forty five patent applications in at least six countries” in seven years, is, when we consider research and development, likely to have taken more time in R&D than they had to spare.

Dannen says: “In Stockholm, Sweden, the Electrolux company still keeps files on two patents purchased from Szilard and Einstein. On December 2, 1927, Szilard and Einstein sold a patent application on an absorption refrigerator to Platen-Munters Refrigerating System, a division of Electrolux, for 3,150 Reichsmark, or 750 American dollars. This slide shows that contract. (not shown) The next slide is a close-up showing the signatures. Both parties were pleased with the transaction. Electrolux considered the purchase price “very cheap.” For Szilard and Einstein, it was profitable. Adjusted for inflation, the sale price would (now) be roughly $10,000. This slide shows the resulting American patent.” http://www.dannen.com/budatalk.html

Dennis Gabor, electrical engineer with later honorary doctorates in physics and a 1971 Nobel Prize in Physics for holography: “At the start of his career, he analysed the properties of high voltage electric transmission lines by using cathode-beam oscillographs, which led to his interest in electron optics… Gabor was led to other electron-beam devices such as electron microscopes and TV tubes. …Szilard tried to encourage Gabor to build an electron microscope but Gabor rightly pointed-out that the sample would be fried to a crisp.” But, Gabor did eventually return to work on the electron microscope. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Gabor

And again: “Dennis Gabor, a Hungarian (honorary) physicist who contributed significantly to electron microscopy and later invented holography, recalled a conversation he had with the physicist Leo Szilard in 1928 at Merlins Cafe Wien. Szilard suggested that Gabor go to work on an electron microscope; Gabor replied, What is the use of it? Everything under the electron beam would burn to a cinder!  Szilard came up with his own electron-microscope design, which he patented in 1931.”
And that is how a Nobel physics prize was awarded to a non physicist.
“Gabor also created the first iron-protected magnetic electron lens.” Says MIT, but as we see below magnetic electron lenses had been around for a while and so he must have created only the iron protection.

1873 Hermann von Helmholtz and Ernst Abbe: In 1873, physicists Hermann von Helmholtz and Ernst Abbe demonstrate that optical resolution depends on the wavelength of the illumination source… This insight leads to the what-if notion of an electron microscope (What if you could use illumination of wavelength that is smaller than light?). However, even though Helmholtz argues for atoms of electricity in 1881, the supposedly theoretical existence of electrons is not demonstrated until experiments carried out by J.J. Thomson and colleagues in 1896.
Note: That even with the absence of the word “electron” and the use of “atoms of electricity” it made no difference to research in 1873. The particle that became known as the electron was known long before the 1897 experiments of JJ Thomson that concerned electrostatic deflection of cathode rays. And then Wiki tells us that: “In 1897, Thomson showed that cathode rays were composed of “previously unknown” negatively charged particles, which he calculated must have bodies much smaller than atoms and a very large value for their charge-to-mass ratio.”
One surely has to question the shenanigans here?

An electron microscope is a cathode ray tube standing on end.

1896 Electron Microscope
In 1896 Olaf Kristian Birkeland, a Norwegian scientist, after experimenting with the effect of parallel magnetic fields on the electron beam of the cathode-ray tube, concluded that cathode rays concentrated on a focal point by means of a magnet are as effective as parallel light rays that are concentrated by means of a lens.

1924 Louis de Broglie
In 1924, in his doctoral thesis, Louis de Broglie introduces his theory of electron waves. de Broglie states that any moving particle or object has an associated wave.
In his 1924 PhD thesis he postulated the wave nature of electrons and suggested that all matter has wave properties. This concept is known as the de Broglie hypothesis, an example of wave-particle duality, and forms a central part of the theory of quantum mechanics. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_de_Broglie

Note: that the theory comes after the experiment, unlike today. But a particle according to Wiki is: “In the physical sciences, the word is used to describe a small localized object to which can be ascribed several physical or chemical properties such as volume or mass; subatomic particles such as protons or neutrons; and other elementary particles. The word is rather general in meaning, and is refined as needed by various scientific fields.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Particle The reader should not be fooled by the word particle because it can mean anything a scientist wants it to mean.

1926 Hans Busch
In 1926, Hans Busch shows that magnetic lenses could be used to direct electrons, much as optical lenses can be used to direct light, setting the final piece in the theoretical puzzle behind the electron microscope the same thing that Birkeland had done in 1896.https://bsp.med.harvard.edu/node/220

Wiki says: “It was not until 1926, however, that the German scientist H. Busch theoretically considered the motion of charged particles in the magnetic field of such a coil; Busch demonstrated that the coil was suitable for producing accurate electron-optical images and thus constituted an electron lens. The first electromagnetic lens was developed in 1926 by Hans Busch. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electron_microscope

And we also find at what-when-how.com: “From around 1910, German physicist Hans Busch was the leading researcher in the field. In 1926, he published his theory on the trajectories of electrons in magnetic fields. His conclusions confirmed and expanded upon those of Birkeland. As a result, Busch (not Birkeland) has been recognized as the founder of a new field later known as electron optics. His theoretical study showed, among other things, that the analogy between light and lenses on the one hand, and electron beams and electromagnetic lenses, on the other hand, was accurate.”

Wiki again: “It had earlier been recognized by Plucker in 1858 that the deflection of “cathode rays” (electrons) was possible by the use of magnetic fields. This effect had been utilized to build primitive cathode ray oscilloscopes (CROs) as early as 1897 by Ferdinand Braun, intended as a measurement device. Indeed in 1891 it was recognized by Riecke that the cathode rays could be focused by these magnetic fields, allowing for simple lens designs. Later this theory was extended by Hans Busch in his work published in 1926, who showed that the lens maker’s equation, could under appropriate assumptions, be applicable to electrons.”
Wiki contradicting itself: “Indeed in 1891 it was recognized by Riecke that the cathode rays could be focused by these magnetic fields, allowing for simple lens designs.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transmission_electron_microscopy

But this was all worked-out by Hermann von Helmholtz and Ernst Abbe in 1873 long before the establishment of modern physics? But then again von Helmholtz was a supporter of longitudinal waves, his ideas based upon Maxwell’s equations and debunked after Nikola Tesla used the same idea in his research. This was before Oliver Heaviside changed Maxwell’s equations. Science did not want longitudinal waves and science did not like Oliver Heaviside because he was self-taught, but the spectre of longitudinal waves was too great to bear and they decided to bite the bullet. They called Heaviside’s equations Maxwell’s equations and all was well with science.
It’s all very confusing and a little crazy but that is what it was meant to be, because it was around this period that the academics managed to stop all research into the how and why of electricity, a situation unchanged to this day.

1931 Ernst Ruska: was born in Heidelberg. He was educated at the Technical University of Munich from 1925 to 1927 and then entered the Technical University of Berlin, where he posited that microscopes using electrons, with wavelengths 1000 times shorter than those of light, could provide a more detailed picture of an object than a microscope utilizing light, in which magnification is limited by the size of the wavelengths. In 1931, he demonstrated that a magnetic coil could act as an electron lens, and used several coils in a series to build the first electron microscope in 1933. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Ruska

1931 Electron microscope
In 1931 the German engineers Ernst Ruska and Maximillion Knoll succeeded in magnifying an electron image. This was, in retrospect, the moment of the invention of the electron microscope but the first prototype was actually built by Ruska in 1933 and was capable of resolving to 50 nm. Although it was primitive and not really fit for practical use, Ruska was recognised some 50 years later by the award of a Nobel Prize. The first commercially available electron microscope was built in England by Metropolitan Vickers for Imperial College, London, and was called the EM1, though it never surpassed the resolution of a good optical microscope. The early electron microscopes did not excite the optical microscopists because the electron beam, which had a very high current density, was concentrated into a very small area and was very hot and therefore charred any non-metallic specimens that were examined. When it was found that you could successfully examine biological specimens in the electron microscope after treating them with osmium and cutting very thin slices of the sample, the electron microscope began to appear as a viable proposition. At the University of Toronto, in 1938, Eli Franklin Burton and students Cecil Hall, James Hillier and Albert Prebus constructed the first electron microscope in the New World.

It was in 1931 that Leo Szilard filed a German patent application on the electron microscope having done no work on it what so ever.

1931 Reinhold Rudenberg, As the date of a public lecture on electron optics was approaching Siemens applied for a patent on Rudenbergs electrostatic-lens instrument and his general electron microscope principles on May 30, 1931. Siemens also obtained patents in six other countries. In Germany this, or patents derived therefrom, were granted at various later times from 1938-1954. Some competitors voiced complaints against the Rudenberg patents, but ignored or did not notice the earlier year that Rudenberg began his invention (1930) nor the difference of the stimulus that initiated it, nor would they recognize the technical differences between his electrostatic electron lenses and the magnetic lenses used by others.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhold_Rudenberg#Electron_microscope_and_patents
Note: As we are told above, Rudenberg’s patent was for electrostatic lenses unlike Szilard’s (assumed) electromagnetic lenses. (But surely the electrostatic lens was used by  J J Thomson to detect the electron?)

1986 Ernst Ruska,
nobelprize.org: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physics by one half to Professor. Ernst Ruska, Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany, for his fundamental work in electron optics, and for the design of the first electron microscope. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1986/press.html

Electron Sample Destruction
purdue.edu: “Because the SEM utilizes vacuum conditions and uses electrons to form an image, special preparations must be applied to the sample. All water must be removed from the samples because the water would vaporize in the vacuum. All metals are conductive and require no preparation before being used. All non-metals need to be made conductive by covering the sample with a thin layer of conductive material. This is done by using a device called a “sputter coater.” http://www.purdue.edu/rem/rs/sem.htm#3
Only conductive (metal) samples are suitable for electron microscopy untreated, all other samples are metal treated to prevent them burning in the electron beam. The resulting image is therefore of the metal coating or stain and not the original sample.
Never believe a scientist when he tells you he is investigating nature. A metal caricature of a once living organism is about as far removed from nature as it’s possible to get.

And so, after a hundred years of research by every tinkerer who had ever laid-hand on a Crookes tube, an academic who had all the work done for him presents the electron microscope Ta Dah! 50 years later when everyone had forgotten where it came from, he received a Nobel prize for his efforts. A well known scientist and close friend of Albert Einstein patents the same microscope having never played any part in it’s development and receives the royalties.
This is not the way that the academics tell the tale!
See also: http://helmut.ruska.de/?page_id=14

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