Karl von Linde was born in Berndorf, Bavaria. He studied engineering at Zurich Polytechnic and began teaching at the Technische Hochschule in Munich in 1868. Gabriel Sedlmayr, a friend from the Spatenbrau brewery, who was also president of the German Brewer's Union, asked Linde to develop a refrigeration system that would make possible year-round beer brewing. By 1874 Linde had developed a methyl ether refrigerator, followed by an ammonia-compressor model in1876. While Linde was not the first to use condensed ammonia as a refrigerant--the Scottish-American inventor David Boyle had patented such a system in 1872--his design was the first practical refrigerator.
By 1879 Linde had left teaching to concentrate on research, and by 1891 he had sold 12,000 domestic refrigerators in Germany and the United States. The success of the refrigeration business allowed Linde to concentrate on his nextproject, the removal of heat from gases and liquids at low temperatures. In 1895 he produced a machine that used the Joule-Thomson effect in a continuousprocess to produce large amounts of liquefied gases, which up until then could be made in only very small quantities. By 1902 Linde had developed a methodfor separating pure liquid oxygen and nitrogen from liquid air, again in large, commercially valuable amounts. Variations of Linde's methods are still used today.
Linde's discoveries accelerated the development of the liquid air industry, had important commercial applications in steel manufacture, and also providedan important basis for modern low-temperature, high-vacuum physics research.Linde died in Munich in 1934.