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First Linde ammonia chiller takes centre stage

GERMANY: The first ammonia refrigeration machine designed by German pioneer Carl von Linde in 1876 is to be put on permanent display in Germany. 

The first compressed-ammonia chiller developed by Linde will be given pride of place in the House of Bavarian History, a new museum soon to be opened in Regensburg. 

This original Linde refrigerating machine weighs almost six tons. At 2.4m high x 5.3m wide and 2.1m deep, it will also be one of the largest exhibits in the new museum.

According to the German refrigeration heritage group HKK, Carl Linde experimented for six years until this prototype was finally built in 1876 in the Maschinenfabrik Augsburg. It was supplied to the Dreher brewery in Trieste (at that time part of Austria), revolutionising the production of lager beer.

Bottom-fermented beer such as pils, and lagers require temperatures below 9ºC. Until the invention of the Linde chiller, brewing beer during the summer months was problematic, if not impossible.

This original machine has now been brought out of storage in the Vienna Technical Museum and transported in five large parts to the new Regensburg Museum.

Linde made his first compression refrigerating machine using methyl ether in 1875. That machine, however, was not gas-tight and the leaking methyl ether caused explosions in the engine room, seriously injuring one worker. In 1876, he made his first ammonia compressor with two vertical cylinders, employing glycerin as a sealant.

The new machine weighed and cost only half as much as its predecessor, and was easier to assemble and to maintain. It continued to be used in the Dreher brewery until 1908.

Celebrating its Bavarian birthplace, the machine will now be one of the major exhibits at the new Regensburg Museum, which is due to open to the public in June.

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