If you look into the history or even the definition of a vortex tube, you’re likely to find mention of a physicist named Rudolf Hilsch. Born December 18th, 1903, Hilsch was a German physicist, professor, and manager of the Physics Institute of the George August University of Göttingen. He received a doctorate degree by the age of 24 and spent his career furthering the advancement and understanding of numerous phenomena of physics.
Although Hilsch didn’t invent the Vortex Tube (the original inventor was a physicist by the name of Georges J. Ranque), he is entwined with their history thanks to a paper he published in 1947. According to lore, this paper significantly changed the understanding and performance capabilities of the vortex tube, eventually being marked as the precursor for identifying a vortex tube as a real potential cooling device. (I’ve made attempts to find this 1947 publication properly translated into English, but to no avail. If you have it or find it, please email it to me at LeeEvans@EXAIR.com! (Original publication in German can be found here.)
Given that vortex tubes are a known EXAIR solution, it seems reasonable that today, on Hilsch’s birthday, we give recognition to this influential physicist and his mark on thermodynamic fluid flow technology. And, although we at EXAIR are connected to Hilsch through vortex tubes, everyone alive has been influenced by his work. This is because Hilsch and a partner (physicist Robert Wichard Pohl) constructed the first semiconductor amplifier in 1938, prompting Hilsch to prove (in 1939) that solid-state electronics are possible. This work paved the way for transistor and solid-state electronics technology as we know it today. Without Hilsch and his life’s work, not only would we not have vortex tubes, we likely would have any electronic devices we use every day.
Here’s to you Rudolf Hilsch. Thank you for your work, your discoveries, and your achievements.