Linde has been at the forefront of industrial gases since the inception of the industry. Over 100 years ago, having taken the embryonic technologies and innovations of refrigeration, the company’s founding father - Carl von Linde - pioneered many of the concepts still used today to produce industrial gases.

Having been formed in 1879 to help develop von Linde’s work in mechanical refrigeration systems for the brewing and food industries, Linde is now the world’s largest industrial gases and engineering company by market share and revenue, serving customers across a range of sectors including healthcare, steel making, food, beverage carbonation, and water treatment. 

A celebration of the efforts made by von Linde, the upcoming June edition features insight provided to gasworld by the Senior Vice-President of Linde Engineering Sales & Technology, John van der Velden.

“Liquefaction dramatically reduces the space that is needed for the storage of gases and enables their efficient transportation in cylinders.” He added that von Linde soon realised that other industry customers required pure gases such as oxygen, nitrogen, and argon, in addition to transportable gases.

“Those who split the air reshape the world”, ran one of the Linde company’s slogans,” said van der Velden. “ASUs and liquefaction spread quickly from the 1910’s onwards. Pure argon was needed for efficiency-improved light bulbs, an important element of electrification before the First World War.”

“Fertiliser producers at the time relied on pure nitrogen, helping farmers to feed a rapidly increasing world population; pure oxygen was needed for welding and steel production, the mainstay of industrial societies of the time,” he added.

Oxygen was also supplied to the nascent petrochemical industry, a sector that is now responsible for supplying materials to a range of industries including construction, agriculture, cosmetics, electronics, industrial gases, and food additives. In the early days of oxygen production, one of the primary uses for the gas was the oxyacetylene torch, which was used for welding and metal cutting in the construction of iron and steel structures, including ships.

How did it all begin?

Compelled by the hallowed halls of academia, von Linde became invested in the research of heat theory in the 1800s. Having began in the laboratory of the Munich university at which he was tenured, the engineer’s pioneering work in refrigeration was set to change the world.

Born from von Linde’s pioneering developments in refrigeration and liquefaction, the cryogenic distillation process is still used today to produce high purity gases. The son of a minister, von Linde’s foray into air separation began in Zurich, Switzerland, where he undertook an engineering course at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

After being expelled for partaking in a student protest, the young von Linde was able to secure a lecturer position at the Technische Hochschule in Munich, Germany. Despite his earlier dismissal, he rapidly ascended through the ranks of academia, becoming Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the tender age of 30, specialising in steam locomotives…

Full feature article coming soon.

Available in the June edition of gasworld magazine and currently online for subscribers, the full article delves into the nitty gritty of Linde’s pioneering air separation technology, touches upon von Linde’s work with iconic stout producer Guinness, and explores the company’s most recent major projects.