Title and Description Page
Family, Early Years and Schooling 1
Grows up in Omaha, Nebraska under modest financial circumstances. Avid reader as an adolescent. Father is in sheet metal business, mother is active in the community. First jobs include paper route, stacking books and delivering telegrams for Western Union. Graduates Omaha Central High School in 1921.
Advanced Education 4
Receives scholarship to Armour Institute (now Illinois Institute of Technology) for two years. Transfers to the University of Nebraska and completes remaining undergraduate work in one year. Attends the University of Michigan and works under Professor Walter L. Badger. Receives his master's degree and Ph.D.; discusses working with Professor Badger and his other professors at the university.
Eastman Kodak 15
Meets recruiter from Eastman Kodak in March, 1927, and accepts position. First problem is how to concentrate acetic acid from its dilute solutions. Discusses the "boil around system" and the development of the Othmer Still. Also involved in working on the development of cellulose acetate, extractive distillation and the uses of methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE). Explains systems used by George Eastman at Kodak Park.
Resigns From Kodak, Develops Own Facilities 40
Frustration over use of the patents he developed and desire to produce his own market for his work. Kodak prefers that he get into management for the company, for which he has no interest. Sets up own facilities and continues work on azeotropic distillation. Also works as a consultant for the American Chemical Products Company in exchange for laboratory facilities. Offer from the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (now EXXON) to to develop synthetic rubber.
Polytechnic Institute, Brooklyn, NY 45
Teaching position offered in 1932. Chooses Poly for both academic and industrial freedom. Discusses the newly formed chemical engineering department, first classes, first students and the Depression's effect on them. Shares teaching methods and philosophy. Earns chairmanship in 1937.
Industrial Endeavors 53
Works with Tennessee Eastman as a consultant. Hopeful about the sale of his patent, but legal problems occur with Kodak. Gray Chemical Company offers job to develop acetic acid. Helps to build plant in Roulette, Pennsylvania, for production of methanol and acetic acid. Discusses the effect of charcoal and wood chemicals. Buys land in Pennsylvania.
World War II 76
Develops key process in producing RDX. Trained by the Government to evaluate the German chemical industry. Builds a plant to ferment alcohol in South and Central America. Teaches enlisted men at Poly. Class sizes increase dramatically after the war.
Works with TAMS in the early 1950s to design basic needs for the country. Declines to live there, but sends contact to Rangoon. Interested in the human needs and health problems of the Burmese people. Considers Burma "one of my greatest professional experiences." Shares experiences of subsequent travels.
Technical Work 93
Summarizes extracting techniques. Devises method for separation of wood constituents with the Northwood Chemical Company. Two year association to do research with the American Sugar Refining Company. Experiments with temperature differences in the ocean as a source of energy. Desalination for the Saline Water Conversion Corporation. Works with PROUST for expedition of domestic and industrial sewage. Explains applications of Wet Air Oxidation (WAO) and pipeline heating.
Explains the differences between patents (experiments) and "gray matter" patents (studies). Discusses original patents with Kodak. Argues own case with the Patent Office.
Experimental Work 117
Experiments with the affinity series of metals. Works with German engineers Gerhard Holland and Hanz Zimmer. Further work with azeotropic distillation. Discusses the Othmer Plot.
Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology 128
Developed at Poly with Raymond Kirk and Eric Proskauer. Described as a "public service for the profession." Considered counterpart to Ullmann's German Encyclopedia. Explains process of choosing authors, topics, and content.
Chemists' Club 137
Gradual change from academic to professional environment—more chemical executives than professors and lab chemists. Remembrances of tenure as President. Clubs in New York City being phased out.
Brooklyn, NY 142
Atmosphere of Brooklyn in the 1930s and various homes in Brooklyn Heights. Describes his residence, which he has lived in since 1944.
Summing Up 147
Discussion of old ideas brought to life by modern developments. The future of chemistry and how the field has changed. Possibilities for the future.