The 20th century brought critical breakthroughs in refining petroleum to produce gasoline and other substances used for fuel and lighting, as well as a wide variety of other chemicals. Catalysts form a key element of this story. They can reduce the pressures and temperatures needed for carrying out commercially useful reactions that ensure the specificity of products, thus reducing costs and potentially harmful waste products.

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The Center for Oral History captures and preserves the stories of notable figures in chemistry and related fields, with over 425 oral histories that deal with various aspects of science, of scientists, and of scientific practices. For more information please visit CHF’s Oral History Program or e-mail oralhistory@

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The Center for Contemporary History and Policy explores issues ranging from energy to medicine on CHF's blog, Periodic Tabloid.