Talk:Einstein refrigerator

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Sounds too good?[edit]

Could someone please write up the disavantages... NPOV. And if there are none, I shall go purchase one of these posthaste. Baloogan 01:28, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The disadvantage is that you can't buy them :) The old kerosene burning fridges worked this way, not sure why they went away, perhaps an evil conspiracy by the freon manufacturers, or perhaps because people didn't like having to fill them up with kero. Once upon a time they were as common as electric fridges, and someone once told me that they were more efficient than electrical fridges (probably they meant that burning kero locally was more efficient than burning coal remotely and using an electrical fridge locally, rather than that you could use electricity to directly heat a kero fridge and have it more efficient than a compression type fridge. These fridges could be plumbed to run on natural gas, but I don't know of anyone that has done this. Kero-fridges were always notorious for being too cold, but I suspect that that could have been fixed with better engineering. njh 10:39, 3 February 2006 (UTC)
Speaking from memory, when I was a child (a very long time ago) gas-powered fridges were commonly sold and advertised in Britain. I can't be sure, but if it was as early as the 1960s, when I was a teenager, they would have used coal gas rather than natural gas, which was only available from the late 60s onwards. I remember being puzzled how a refridgerator could run by burning gas, which would surely heat things up not cool them! I understand a little better now. (talk) 14:38, 8 September 2016 (UTC)
The second link in the external links section goes to a page where it seems to imply at the end that the thing doesn't cool stuff enough. Xiner 00:49, 11 November 2006 (UTC)
I can confirm the "doesn't cool stuff enough" aspect from personal experience. In one of my archeological field trips we had a gas powered absorption refrigerator and while it kept stuff cold enough that it didn't spoil it certainly didn't keep stuff as cold as a vapour compression refrigerator. The wikipedia page on Kerosene lamp gives some hints as to why kerosene burning fridges vanished without invoking any conspiracy: cost, smell, and soot. Given patents have a limited life (20 years in the US) and are public knowledge it is hard to see if these type of refrigerator was a valid competitor how anyone could have kept it quiet all this time. --BruceGrubb (talk) 07:43, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Health risks[edit]

Just curious, the page states that the machine caused numerous deaths due to leaks of ammonia, but when I read about Ammonia on Wikipedia it hardly looks like such leaks could cause numerous deaths. I know little about chemistry, but either the health risks in the article about ammonia are understated, or the information here about it causing deaths is inaccurate.

I can't believe the claims of ammonia leaks causing death either and have not found a credible source for it. I have removed the claim from the article. -- Marcika 15:26, 12 December 2005 (UTC)
Last year (2005) a dozen or more people suffered serious respiratory problems as a result of a leak in a large ammonia absorption fridge in a meatworks in Melbourne. I don't recall anyone dying. njh 10:39, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

About a year ago, I was involved in a small ammonia leak. I was holding the end of the pipe it came out of, so I inhaled a good bit of ammonia. (It was coming out gaseous, not liquid, or I would have gotten the hell out of there). I am unaware of suffering any fatality from the incident. Ammonia is not toxic, contrary to popular belief. It is a simple asphyxiant. (To be more precise, it may be toxic in doses much larger than would be needed to suffocate you to death.) 05:18, 18 June 2006 (UTC)

we used to have one that ran on propane gas. --Will314159 14:56, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Ammonia is toxic, but unlike some other dangerous gases (especially carbon monoxide -- odorless and tasteless) its scent is strong enough to drive one away before one gets in trouble. Ammonia would prove hazardous to anyone unable to get away. It is far less dangerous than chlorine, which has been used as a refrigerant gas.

Yes, ammonia in small concentrations is very unpleasant, and gives ample motivation to leave the area. If someone inhaled a large enough concentration at one time to pass out, then there is danger. Ammonia is about half the density of air, so the fumes tend to rise. One would have to be trapped in an enclosed area to get a fatal dose. Jokem (talk) 19:48, 23 June 2009 (UTC)


I think someone needs to look at merging and rearranging the material on Icyball, Absorptive refrigeration, Gas absorption refrigerator and Einstein refrigerator. (It might be me :) njh 10:31, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

Yes. I cannot easily see the differences between this article and Absorptive refrigeration. bendodge 22:03, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

Refrigerant vs partial pressure gas[edit]

I believe that the article may have the refrigerant and the "pressure equalizing gas" reversed. I believe that ammonia is used as the refrigerant and the butane is used to provide a partial pressure in the evaporator to allow the ammonia to evaporate. Ammonia is readily soluble in water but butane is not, therefore water may be used as a trap that will keep the butane in the evaporator but allow ammonia to pass from evaporator to condenser. I believe that this is just another design of the absorption refrigeration cycle.

"Modern Refrigeration and Air Conditioning 18th Edition (Hardcover) by Andrew D.; Bracciano, Alfred F.; Turnquist, Carl Harold Althouse" has a chapter discussing absorption refrigeration and how its implemented in commercially available appliances.

Absorption refrigerators are still used in recreational vehicles where they are heated by propane when electricity is unavailable but with an electric heater when electricity is available.

Mattmia2 03:50, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

Yes. "ammonia pressure-equalizing fluid, butane refrigerant," seems inverted to me as well. The butane seems to provide the pressure to affect the boiling point of ammonia, allowing evaporation within the system. Have seen a dissertation or two on this, will see if can source for someone to fix.
NO! Looked over Eienstein patent as reference, and what-do-you-know, unlike prior art, Einstein, the crazy devil, uses ammonia as the INERT gas to lower the partial pressure over the butane which is actually the refrigerant. The water is used to filter by absorbing the ammonia. See also Dr. Delano's Dissertation "Design Analysis of the Einstein Refrigeration Cycle". THI (talk) 10:43, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

Boats and RVs[edit]

Refrigerators that sound a lot like this are in use on boats and RVs, where propane gas as a fuel source is much more practical than electricity--Mongreilf (talk) 14:21, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

Air conditioning[edit]

Would the Einstein refrigerator be suitable for use as an air conditioner? The mechanical principles behind refrigeration and air conditioning are quite similar, and the obvious difference is that air conditioning units are designed to send 'waste' heat outside of the enclosed building. (Refrigerators as a rule send the waste heat into the room in which the refrigerator runs).--Paul from Michigan (talk) 12:50, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

Oxford fridge[edit]

Instead of a heat pump, could a mere solar mirror, fresnel lense or concentrator be used. Seems quite expensive otherwise. (talk) 13:22, 3 December 2008 (UTC)


I wish someone would give a better explanation of the operation. Nothing says which components are the evaporator and condenser, which fluid is butane, etc. Jokem (talk) 04:44, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

I wrote a new explanation, replacing the one below: (talk) 05:36, 6 July 2010 (UTC)
The ammonia is introduced into the evaporator, causing the refrigerant to evaporate, taking energy from the surroundings, due to the fact that the partial pressure of the refrigerant is increased, and the mix of gases then passed through to a Condenser heat transfer condenser where it comes into contact with the absorption liquid. Since ammonia is soluble in water and butane is insoluble, the ammonia gas is absorbed by the water, freeing the butane. Heat is thus first given from the butane to the ammonia as the gases mix, and then from the ammonia to the water, as the ammonia leaves the butane, taking heat with it, and dissolves into the water. The butane then assumes the pressure inside the condenser, which is enough to make it liquefy. Since butane's specific gravity is less than that of ammonia in solution in water, the liquid butane floats on top of the ammonia solution. The liquid butane then passes back to the evaporator to repeat the cycle. The ammonia solution flows to a heat exchanger where a heat source drives it from the water as a gas again and it returns to the evaporator.
The explaination does not reference the different parts of the device. Where is the evaporator, which is the heat condenser? What you have stated is better, but not enough. If the different parts fo the device were labelled A, B, etc. then referenced in the explaination it would be better. Jokem (talk) 19:58, 7 December 2011 (UTC)

Move to Einstein-Szilard refrigerator[edit]

Should not this article be moved to Einstein-Szilard refrigerator? They are joint signatories on the patent. Is Einstein refrigerator the common name for it? If so, I've never heard it called after Einstein on his own.--ML5 (talk) 11:52, 24 September 2009 (UTC)

About 1/4th as many Google hits; plenty for bold in the intro. (talk) 22:35, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
Einstein and Szilard themselves named it the "Einstein Refrigerator" in the document shown in the article, notice the name in big letters and the signatures of both inventors. (talk) 20:59, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

Here is support for moving this article to Einstein-Szilard refrigerator. Dannen, Geene (1997). "The Einstein-Szilard Refrigerators". Scientific American. 276 (1): 90–95.  Any Google search, of course ,will make more hits on Einstein, and problem with using Google for such research. The contribution of Szilard should not be minimized. Tachyon 18:24, 12 June 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Janopus (talkcontribs)

I think the single best article ever published on this topic is the one referenced above, the January 1997 issue of Scientific American. I believe this could stand as the main source document on this topic. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Constancespry (talkcontribs) 01:41, 29 October 2011 (UTC)

GE Monitor Top Image[edit]

While very similar, the image does not depict a GE Monitor Top refrigerator as it states. MicahWes (talk) 02:19, 19 December 2012 (UTC)

Correct. The Monitor Top fridge was named for its visual similarity to the USS Monitor which appeared to be carrying a round hatbox on deck. The one shown is the "Flat Top" model, a redesign of the Monitor Top.

Snezzy (talk) 13:18, 12 March 2013 (UTC)

Key point of difference[edit]

It's currently quite unclear what is the key point of difference between this cycle and the ammonia,water,hydrogen cycle which is common in absorption refrigerators used in boats, camping, etc.Lathamibird (talk) 09:19, 16 June 2015 (UTC)

Some observations on the differences between the einstein cycle and the ammonia-hydrogen-water cycle of modern heat-powered RV and boat absorption refrigerators.
In the modern design, ammonia is the working refrigerant fluid and hydrogen is the auxilliary fluid, whereas in the einstain design, the ammonia is the auxilliary fluid and the refrigerant is butane or something else
Einstein design requires a flow of cooling water to the jacket of the condensor vessel.
Einstein design requires the application of heat at two places, and requires the water in the rising pipe to be raised to vigourous boiling to create bubbles to lift the water from one vessel to another. Modern designs will work with about 85 Fahrenheit heat.Lathamibird (talk) 11:48, 16 June 2015 (UTC)