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ASHRAE Pioneers of Industry Award

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Gilbert Carlson


Gilbert Carlson was born in 1922 and graduated from Purdue University in 1946 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.  Gil as known by his peers, went on to work for the Bell and Gossett Company in Morton Grove, Illinois where he spent his entire working career, retiring as their Director of Technical Services in 1988.  He also served on the Industry Advisory Committee of Purdue’s Herrick Laboratories for 32 years.  Mr. Carlson joined the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers (now ASHRAE) in 1953.  Shortly thereafter he co-authored with Harold Lockhart a paper “Compression Tank Selection for Hot Water Heating Systems”, which at the time, greatly simplified sizing of the compression chamber.  The paper led to the subsequent seminal paper that changed the hydronic system industry.  As an author, Gil published more than 100 articles and papers which were published in the ASHRAE Transactions, Journal, and other leading trade magazines.  Gil served for many years on numerous ASHRAE TCs.  He was considered the “Dean” of TC6.1 and TC8.2 for many years.  He was an ASHRAE Fellow and a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award and the Life Member Award.  He held seven U.S. patents on balancing devices and other hydronic control specialties and gave the design community the round slide rule nomograph, the “System-Syzer®”.  Mr. Carlson’s talent was to reduce large, complex systems into small manageable components that would work together in harmony through the “common pipe” principle.  He would get his audience or readers thinking with cryptic, cleaver expressions like “a difference isn’t a difference unless it makes a difference” and the principle of the tee, which was “all of the water flowing into a tee must flow out of the tee and all of the water flowing out of a tee must have flowed into the tee.” He was a mentor to generations of engineers.  Gil traveled the world lecturing and performing his diagnostic skills on major systems that could not perform – he was a hands-on engineer of the highest order.  Gilbert Carlson was recognized as an ASHRAE Pioneer of the Industry at the Society’s 2013 Winter Conference in Dallas, Texas.

Sadi Carnot


Sadi Carnot was born in Paris on June 1, 1796 and died on August 24, 1832.  At age 16, Carnot entered École Polytechnique graduating in 1814 and continued his studies in military engineering at the École du Génie at Metz.

The first of Carnot's major works was a paper which he wrote in 1822-23. This paper attempted to find a mathematical expression for the work produced by one kilogram of steam. The paper is similar in its aims and methods to several other papers which appeared around this time.  Carnot's work, however, is distinguished for his careful, clear analysis of the units and concepts employed. It is also distinguished for its use of both an adiabatic working stage and an isothermal stage in which work is consumed. From its style and detailed descriptions, the paper was intended for publication but never published. Its existence was only discovered in manuscript form in 1966.

In 1824 Carnot published the only work he would publish during his lifetime, “Réflexions sur la puissance motrice du feu et sur les machines propres à développer cette puissance” which includes his description of the "Carnot cycle."  This book became well known after Clapeyron published an analytic reformulation of it in 1834. Carnot's ideas were later incorporated into the thermodynamic theory of Clausius and Thomson.

Carnots’s book was initially neglected at its time of publication. It was published on June 12, 1824 and on July 26th of that year, Pierre Girard gave a long review of it to the Académie des Sciences in Paris. Pierre Girard's review was very positive and published in the Revue Encyclopédique. Although the review stated the theorems and the conclusions of Carnot's work fully, it did not comment on the highly original reasoning which Carnot had employed to achieve his results.

Carnot continued with his research after the publication of his book.  Although none of his additional works were ever published, his notes have survived.

Mr. Carnot was recognized as an ASHRAE Pioneer of the Industry at the Society’s 2018 Winter Conference.

William E. Fontaine


William Ellsworth Fontaine was born in Chicago, Illinois on May 5, 1905. He graduated from Lane Technical High School and attained his Bachelor of Arts in Science degree at Central YMCA College, later called Roosevelt University, in Chicago in 1935. He received a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1942 followed by a Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1944, both at Purdue University where he went on to teach and remained on faculty for 35 years. Prior to that William worked as a draftsman and signal engineer for Western Electric Company, and the Burlington and Quincy Railroad in Chicago from 1924-1937. Following his retirement Mr. Fontaine earned the designation of Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. Professor Fountaine’s milestone contribution to the HVAC&R Industry was establishing the Ray W. Herrick Laboratories at Purdue University, the first of its kind. Its successes have had a great influence on expanding industry support of graduate student research that in the 1950s was usually limited to supporting fellowships. The outcome has been tangible advancement of the arts and sciences of HVAC&R. The way that the Herrick Laboratories under Professor Fontaine’s leadership handled such issues became a role model for the way industry and many other universities do directed research. More than 700 students have graduated from the laboratories since Fontaine’s dream became a reality; close to half of them were specifically relevant for the HVAC&R industry. He was a regional director for the American Society of Refrigerating Engineers (ASRE) in 1959 when the society merged with the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers (ASHVE) to form today’s ASHRAE. Mr. Fontaine was selected as an ASHRAE Fellow and served on the ASHRAE Board of Directors. Professor William Fontaine was recognized as an ASHRAE Pioneer of the Industry at the Society’s 2013 Winter Conference in Dallas, Texas.

John Gorrie


Dr. John Gorrie (1802 – 1855) is the first documented American to propose and construct a mechanical refrigeration machine for making ice. But he was also the first American to use mechanical refrigeration for comfort cooling.

Dr. Gorrie was a medical doctor practicing general medicine beginning in the 1830s from his home in Apalachicola in the panhandle of Florida.  He became so interested in the connection of heat and humidity to disease that he proposed, in an 1842 article, to cool entire cities using mechanical refrigeration.  Within two years, he constructed an air cycle refrigerating machine to provide refrigerated air.  At that time, he wrote, “Let the houses of warm countries be built with an equal regard to insulation, and a like labor and expense be incurred in moderating the temperature, and lessening the moisture of the internal atmosphere and the occupants would incur little or no risk from malaria ... high atmospheric temperature ... prevents a large portion of the human family from sharing the natural advantages they possess.”

By 1850, he had constructed a couple of refrigeration machines, performed numerous scientific experiments on them and published another article, “On the Quantity of Heat Evolved from Atmospheric Air by Mechanical Compression.”  In an attempt to finance his ambitions, he adapted his machine for ice making, obtaining a British and U.S. Patent.  His U.S. Patent is the first to be issued for mechanical refrigeration.  One of his machines was installed in Havana, Cuba and another in London.

He published a promotional pamphlet for an ice making system in 1854, but unable to successfully launch his machine, he become despondent and died in 1855.  He applied for another U.S. Patent on a comfort cooling system which was never issued.  His air cycle system ideas were later refined and produced by others.

Dr. Gorrie’s publications include: Refrigeration and Ventilation in Cities, On the Prevention of Malarial Diseases, On the Quantity of Heat Evolved from Atmospheric Air by Mechanical Compression, and On the Nature of Malaria and Prevention of its Morbid Agency.

Dr. Gorrie was recognized as an ASHRAE Pioneer of the Industry at the Society’s 2014 Winter Conference.

Daniel Livingston Holden


Daniel Livingston Holden was born in Boone County, Kentucky in 1837 and died at the age of 87 in Philadelphia. As a Charter Member of the American Society of Refrigerating Engineers (ASRE) in 1904, he is considered to be one of the first pioneers of the U.S. ice making refrigeration industry.

As a Kentucky schoolboy in 1856, he was fascinated by the ice formation on the underside of a plate of boiling ether. After serving as a pilot on the Mississippi River, he became interested in engineering, attending a technical school in Cincinnati. Holden then served in the cavalry during the American Civil War, retiring as a Major.

The Civil War cut off the natural ice supply that came south from sources like Maine and New York state forcing the Texas beef industry and breweries to encourage inventiveness in mechanical ice making. During the war, the French designed Carré absorption refrigeration machine was shipped through the Union blockade into Mexico and eventually to Texas. After the war, in 1865, Holden, as a principal in the engineering firm Mepes, Holden & Montgomery obtained the smuggled Carré machine and installed it in San Antonio, Texas. It did not, however, produce clear ice.  Holden made several improvements to the design and used distilled water to produce the first crystal clear ice in Texas. The next year, in 1866, Holden purchased rights to a new refrigerant made of petroleum ether and naphtha as refrigerants, called “chymogene.” Soon, he was installing systems across Texas and into Louisiana and the south. In 1869 Holden acquired several patents on his own designs to improve ice making techniques.

Holden also developed the first mechanically refrigerated abattoir in Fulton, Texas for the purpose of chilling and curing beef for shipment to Liverpool England and other destinations. The Texas beef industry applauded his improvements, which greatly reduced product losses.
In the early 1890’s Holden established a manufacturing company in Philadelphia where he continued patenting and manufacturing improved ice making methods well into his late 70’s. He was issued 15 U.S. patents between 1867 and March 3, 1913. His final improvement was the energy saving “regealed ice machine.” It produced flake ice, which was then compressed into solid ice blocks on a continuous basis.

Mr. Holden was recognized as an ASHRAE Pioneer of the Industry at the Society’s 2016 Winter Conference.

Warren S. Johnson
1847 – 1911

Warren Seymour Johnson was born November 6, 1847 in Leicester Vermont. In 1883, as a college professor at State Normal School (now University of Wisconsin – Whitewater), he was frustrated by the inability to regulate his individual classroom temperatures, so he developed a thermostat, which he deployed at the State Normal School. He called the instrument an "electric tele-thermoscope" in the patent application. It was a bi-metal coiled thermostat with a mercury switch, which could be used to ring a bell to alert the fireman to open or close the heating damper. While not the first bi-metal thermostat, Johnson received a patent for the device.

Warren Johnson and a group of Milwaukee investors incorporated Johnson Electric Service Company in 1885 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to manufacture install and service automatic temperature regulation systems for buildings.

Johnson’s most notable contribution to temperature control was the automatic multi-zone temperature control system - a pneumatic system that used a bi-metal thermostat to control air flow through a nozzle and thereby operate a pilot regulator. The amplified air signal from the regulator was then used to control a steam or hot water valve on a heat exchanger, or to control a damper of a forced air system. He received a patent for the system in 1895. His multi-zone pneumatic control system solved the problem. Johnson’s system for temperature regulation has been adopted worldwide for office buildings, schools, hospitals, and hotels – essentially any large building with multiple rooms that required temperature regulation.

Johnson continued to invent additional control devices, as well as products such as chandeliers, spring-less door locks, puncture-proof tires, thermometers, and a hose coupling for providing steam heat to passenger railcars.

His passion for invention continued throughout his life, resulting in more than 50 patents during his career, mostly for devices aimed at harnessing the sustainable power derived from air, steam or fluid pressure. Warren Johnson died December 5, 1911 at the age of 64.

Johnson Electric Service Company, which eventually became Johnson Controls in 1978, decided to focus on the temperature control business for nonresidential buildings.
In 2018, Warren Johnson was inducted into the US Inventors Hall of Fame.

Mr. Johnson will be inducted into the ASHRAE Hall of Fame at the Society’s 2020 Winter Meeting.

Carl Linde


Carl Linde (1842-1934) studied Mechanical Engineering at Zurich Polytechnic and beginning in 1864 was employed as a locomotive builder. In 1868 he was appointed Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Munich where he established the technical journal Bayerisches Industrie-Blatt (Bavarian Journal of Industry and Trade). His articles in the journal focused on the thermodynamics of mechanical systems.

In 1870, he entered a contest to invent a system that would keep paraffin at a uniform low temperature year round. Linde pursued the project using a rigorous thermodynamic approach to analyze existing systems of refrigeration resulting in a vapor-compression refrigeration system that was energy efficient as well as practical in cost. He published his analysis in two papers in 1871: Mechanical methods of extracting heat at low temperatures and Advanced Ice and Refrigerating Machines which lead him to design and patent a very efficient ammonia vapor compression system in 1876. These papers came to the attention of members of the German brewing industry who approached Linde requesting that he construct a refrigerating machine which after some experiments furthered the design and patent of his advanced ammonia vapor- compression system.

In 1879 he resigned his professorship and started his own manufacturing company, Gesellschaft fur Linde’s Eismaschinen (Company for Linde’s Ice Machines) in Wiesbaden, Germany. His refrigeration machines were sold throughout the world, particularly to breweries. In the US, his systems were sold by the Fred W. Wolf Co. in Chicago after 1880. By 1900, his vapor compression systems were considered to be at least 20% more efficient than any of his competitors.

In 1875, while teaching at the Technical University of Munich, he established a laboratory for theoretical mechanical engineering to test various methods of refrigeration. Beginning in 1894, he specialized in cryogenics and developed the first methods to commercially liquefy air. He was the first to construct an air liquefaction plant using the Joule-Thompson effect. He continued to improve the process, constructing a number of specialized liquefaction plants.

Carl Linde was the first president of the German Society of Refrigerating Engineers founded in 1909. It was said of him: “Carl Linde shone at one and the same time as a scientist, professor, engineer and industrialist, qualities rarely united in one man.”

pdf_icon.png Carl Linde Exhibit at the Bavarian Museum of History

Mr. Linde was recognized as an ASHRAE Pioneer of the Industry at the Society’s 2015 Winter Conference.

Andrew Muhl


Andrew Muhl was born in France in the Alsace Region on February 17, 1831. He attended college in Paris, learning the machinist and locksmith trades and served his time in the French Army. He was a contemporary of Carre who had invented the Ammonia Vapor Absorption Cycle Manufacturing Machine used to make ice. Muhl had learned how to build these machines and was soon making ice and ice cream.

In 1865, at age 34, he decided to immigrate to Mexico, but ended up instead in New Orleans, due to his ship being blown off course. He decided to remain in America and from New Orleans went to Washington, DC, Atlanta and finally San Antonio, Texas. In 1867, he invented and established the Andrew Muhl Ether Ice Making Machine Co. He was awarded a US Patent for his design in 1871, “Improvement in Apparatus for Manufacture of Ice.” This was an Ether Vapor Ice Machine Apparatus Improvement. In 1874, he was awarded a US Patent for “Improvement in Apparatus for Cooling the Air of Buildings.” This was an early invention of Air Conditioning and used an Ether Vapor horizontal coil and blower arrangement which achieved a more uniform temperature distribution and positive ventilation within the room.

In 1869, using his improved design he designed and built an ice plant which produced artificial ice that was 15 degrees colder and in purity and general good qualities superior to natural Brazos River Winter Harvested Ice at a much reduced cost. At the time, after the end of the Civil War, Texas beefsteak was costing $0.02/lb., but ice was priced at $0.15/lb. to $0.25/lb! After his plant got into full production in 1871, he was able to reduce the cost of ice to $0.80/100 lbs.! This made it feasible to ship Texas beef to burgeoning markets in the East and Midwest. The plant had a capacity of 2.5 tons of ice per day and when beer was introduced to the city, the demand for ice grew because people liked to drink beer cold.

He continued to manufacture his process that he marketed, sold, installed, operated, maintained and improved the Ether Vapor Ice Machine and other types of equipment and to sell ice to the people for an extended period of time in several cities within Texas – San Antonio, Austin, Waco and Temple as well as numerous other locations until his death from a stroke suffered at work at his plant in Temple, Texas, on January 15, 1892.

Mr. Muhl was recognized as an ASHRAE Pioneer of the Industry at the Society’s 2015 Winter Conference.

Carl Georg Munters


Carl Georg Munters was born March 22, 1897 in Dala-Jama, Sweden. Carl graduated from the Stockholm Norra Real Upper Secondary School in 1917 and in 1918 created his first patent which was a starting crank that did not kick back for combustion engines. After graduating from the Royal Institute of Technology in 1922, Carl’s patent application relating to the household refrigerator was filed. This application, known as the “Platen-Munters" refrigerator design, had no moving parts and used the absorption principle with ammonia as a cooling agent. The creation of the refrigerator was aimed at residential use and would allow a small gas flame at one end while allowing ice to be produced at the other. The “Platen-Munters” refrigerator design is still sold today for use in house trailers, campers, and boats where gas is suitable fuel.

Carl, through collaboration with John Tandberg, also developed foam plastic (known by the Dow Chemical trademark as Styrofoam). Foam plastic was made to expand by introducing soluble gas under pressure into the melted substance. When the pressure was quickly lowered, the substance bubbled and hardened into a highly porous structure that turned out to have excellent insulating properties. Although Carl envisioned its use for insulating refrigerators, the product was used in life vests and rafts during World War II. Today we encounter it in numerous forms as insulating and packaging material. Though foamed plastic is not often used in HVAC applications, it is likely the most widely used of Carl's inventions.

In 1953, Carl and his associates made their big breakthrough in developing efficient heat and mass transfer surfaces. They developed structures using thin, tightly bound corrugated sheets that provided enormously higher efficiency in a heat transfer device of any given size. The new structures were dramatically smaller. Carl and his colleagues immediately started to pursue innovative uses for these structures such as compact heat exchangers, cooling towers, dehumidifiers, humidifiers, and heat recovery units. Today these inventions are known as Heat Recovery Wheels, Evaporative Air Cooling, and Humidification Media. One year later his team started to develop a compact but highly efficient fill for cooling towers. Carl was actively promoting indoor environmental quality and sustainability in the 1950s!

Carl’s inventions were based on simple heat and mass transfer and used no refrigerants or compressors. Much like the focus of his inventions, the Munters Corporation, founded in 1965 in Fort Myers, Florida tested and manufactured cooling towers, evaporative cooling media, and the residential air conditioner with no compressor. The equipment produced because of his ideas have benefited millions of people. The Munter’s companies today now employ more than 3,000 employees in 30 countries and 6 continents. The inventions of Carl Munters have evolved into the core technologies of energy efficient, sustainable HVAC equipment and are still finding new markets today. During his lifetime, Carl Munters was granted more than 1,000 patents and most of his inventions are still being used today.

Carl Georg Munters died on March 29, 1989 at the age of 92.

Mr. Munters was recognized as an ASHRAE Pioneer of the Industry at the Society’s 2017 Winter Conference.

Benjamin Franklin Sturtevant


Benjamin Franklin Sturtevant was a creative young shoe cobbler in Maine who invented a machine to make the wooden shoe-pegs used to stitch soles. At age 23 he went to Boston with 20 cents in his pocket to market this and some other shoe related inventions. Finding a financial backer, he extended his ideas into machines for making toothpicks. He started a factory to mass produce shoe-pegs but was bothered by the amount of air-borne wood dust in the factory.  By 1860 he was experimenting with fans and centrifugal blowers to exhaust the wood dust, and soon realized these devices could be manufactured and sold for ventilating purposes. He then abandoned the shoe-peg and toothpick business and converted his factory to manufacture centrifugal fans.

In 1869 and 1870 he was granted several patents for centrifugal fans and heating-cooling apparatuses. Sturtevant used boiler produced steam to power the steam engine driven blower, and used a heat exchanger to recapture the heat from the engine exhaust. A subsequent patent added a heat exchanger to recapture heat in the boiler flue gasses. Some of his patents were significantly notable for their energy conservation features.

Sturtevant's equipment was initially used in factories, but heating and ventilating engineers saw the merit of the idea for building an HVAC system.  By the time of Sturtevant's death in 1890, the system (known as the fan system, hot blast system, or plenum system) was being applied to large buildings. The engineering department of Sturtevant’s company published design material that enabled HVAC engineers to design all air systems for all types of applications.  By the 1900’s, Sturtevant’s company was the leading supplier of air-side equipment for large buildings. The company since then has gone through several mergers.

Benjamin Sturtevant can be said to be the founder of the air-side of the HVAC industry, considering that he not only invented the equipment but also began the first company specializing in the engineering and manufacturing of these systems.

Mr. Sturtevant was recognized as an ASHRAE Pioneer of the Industry at the Society’s 2016 Winter Conference.

Frederick Wittenmeier


Fredrick Wittenmeier was born in Zweibrucken, Germany on March 25, 1863.  At the age of 19, Mr. Wittenmeier immigrated to New York where he began his occupation in Refrigeration Engineering. During his career, he worked as the Manager of Kroeschell Bros. Ice Machine Company designing carbon dioxide as a refrigerant for refrigeration equipment in 1897 – 1917.

His many project designs and installations for Kroeschell Bros. included a wine cellar in 1897, and patenting comfort air cooling systems in 1905.  He designed a direct expansion cooling/air washer system for public rooms of the Chicago Auditorium/Congress Hotel, and in 1911 for the Blackstone Hotel.  The first ASHVE meeting was held at the Auditorium Hotel in July of 1906 and was cooled by Mr. Wittenmeier’s carbon dioxide cooling system.

In 1917, Mr. Wittenmeier left Kroeschell Bros. to establish his own company, Wittenmeier Machinery. While serving as President of his own company, Wittenmeier specialized in designing comfort cooling equipment utilizing carbon dioxide refrigerant. By 1920 his company was the dominant player in air conditioning theaters. Patents held by Mr. Wittenmeier include the Compressor Unloader, 1902; Compressor Shaft Seal, 1905; Air Cooling apparatus, 1911; compressor Discharge Valve, 1921; and Refrigerating System, 1926.

Mr. Wittenmeier was a member of ASRE and a pioneer in the development of carbon dioxide refrigerating systems and the application to cooling systems.  He was responsible for the design and installation of the earliest air conditioning system in hotels and theaters.

Frederick Wittenmeier died in 1928 at the age of 65.

Mr. Wittenmeier was recognized as an ASHRAE Pioneer of the Industry at the Society’s 2017 Winter Conference.

Alfred R. Wolff


Alfred R. Wolff (1859–1909) was considered the leading consulting heating and ventilating engineer at the end of the 19th century.  Based in New York City, working with the leading architects of the time, he designed the H&V systems of many of the major buildings in New York, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Columbia University, New York Hall of Records, Metropolitan Life Building, Carnegie Hall, Gimbel Brothers Department Store, Bellevue Hospital, National Coty Bank, New York Athletic Club, residences of Cornelius Vanderbilt and Andrew Carnegie, Plaza Hotel, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and the New York Public Library, as well as dozens of others.

He was a pioneer in design of comfort cooling systems, devising the first co-generation heating-cooling systems for Cornell Medical College, the New York Stock Exchange, Hanover National Bank and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Mr. Wolff earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1876 at age 17 from the Stevens Institute of Technology.  He became interested in the science of heating and ventilating large structures and introduced the use of calculations of system load using heat transfer coefficients into U.S. practice.  He was the first engineer to divide heating plants into units spaced on multiple floors for high-rise buildings.  Realizing the importance of humidity regulation in buildings, he convinced Warren Johnson to develop the humidistat control.  He also was the first to incorporate air filters in his designs.

In 1901 Mr. Wolff proposed the largest cooling plant ever attempted for the new building of the New York Stock Exchange.  The 300 ton co-generation system used absorption chillers powered by electric plant exhaust steam, providing summer cooling at no additional energy cost.  The system operated successfully for 20 years.

His engineering thesis, later published as The Windmill as a Prime Mover, is still considered one of the foundation engineering texts for windmill technology.  He was a charter member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Mr. Wolff’s publications include The Value of the Study of the Mechanical Theory of Heat, Ventilation of Buildings, and The Heating of Large Buildings, Some Moral Factors in the Engineer’s Career.

Mr. Wolff was recognized as an ASHRAE Pioneer of the Industry at the Society’s 2014 Winter Conference.