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Carl Munters named ASHRAE Pioneer of Industry

tammi 12, 2017

Carl Munters was honored in November 2016 by ASHRAE for making milestone contributions to the growth of air conditioning, heating, refrigeration and ventilation. Individuals like Carl Munters who are inducted into the Pioneers of the Industry classification, have shown evidence of distinction, either technically or academically.

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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.

Learn more at www.ashrae.org


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