Einstein patents a refrigerator design, November 11, 1930

-November 11, 2017

In an attempt to improve a design that was potentially dangerous, physicists Leó Szilárd and Albert Einstein patented what has become known as the Einstein refrigerator.

In 1922, Swedish engineering students Baltzar von Platen and Carl Munters invented the refrigerator that produced cold through heat using an absorption process, and was powered by electricity, gas, or kerosene.

After hearing about a family being poisoned by toxic fumes that leaked out of a broken refrigerator seal, Szilárd and Einstein set out to create an alternative design.

The new design had no moving parts, and operated at constant pressure using only a heat source. The heat source naturally pressurized the gas contained in a series of circuits to operate the appliance. No moving parts eliminated the wear and tear that could cause issues with the seal and meant it could last as long as 100 years, estimates said.

The patent was bought by Swedish appliance manufacturer Electrolux, which still sells refrigerators today, but wasn't commercially successful in the Depression era, and because less toxic chemical alternatives were introduced to make the original design safer.

Recently, similar designs have been explored as an environmentally friendly option and for use in areas without electricity.

Also see:

For more moments in tech history, see this blog. EDN strives to be historically accurate with these postings. Should you see an error, please notify us.

Editor's note: This article was originally posted on November 11, 2013, and edited on November 11, 2017.


Loading comments...

Write a Comment

To comment please Log In