Alex Mills: The catalyst chemist

George Alexander Mills

George Alexan­der Mills

, Age 90 of Hockessin, DE died April 28, 2004 at Chris­tiana Hos­pi­tal in Newark. He was born March 20, 1914 in Saska­toon, Saskatchewan, CN and became a U.S. cit­i­zen in 1942. He was a res­i­dent of Swarth­more, PA for 28 years; Bethesda, MD for 12 years; and Newark and Hockessin, DE for 20 years.

Dr. Mills was a chemist for over 40 years, mak­ing major con­tri­bu­tions to indus­trial cat­alytic processes, par­tic­u­larly hydro­car­bon fuels and petro­chem­i­cals includ­ing DABCO for polyurethanes. He was exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Cat­alytic Sci­ence & Tech­nol­ogy at the Uni­ver­sity of Delaware until 1984; chief of the Coal Divi­sion Bureau of Mines; direc­tor of the Office of Inter­na­tional Coop­er­a­tion Fos­sil Energy at the Depart­ment of Energy in Wash­ing­ton, DC; and direc­tor of research at Houdry Process Cor­po­ra­tion (Air Prod­ucts) in Mar­cus Hook, PA.

He received the Henry H. Storch Award from the Amer­i­can Chem­i­cal Soci­ety; the Pio­neer Award from the Amer­i­can Insti­tute of Chemists; and the E.V. Mur­phree Award in chem­istry from Exxon Mobil Research. He was elected to the National Acad­emy of Engi­neer­ing. He was author and
co-author of 143 arti­cles in tech­ni­cal pub­li­ca­tions and held 60 U.S. patents. Dr. Mills was pres­i­dent of the Catal­y­sis Soci­ety of North Amer­ica from 1969–73. He served as chair­man of both, the Fuels Divi­sion, ACS and the Petro­leum Division,ACS at dif­fer­ent times. He was chair­man of the Philadel­phia Catal­y­sis Club dur­ing the orga­ni­za­tion of the First Inter­na­tional Con­gress on Catal­y­sis (Philadel­phia, 1954–56). Finally he and his work were greatly influ­enced by his close coop­er­a­tion with Eugene Houdry.

He received a BS and an MS from the Uni­ver­sity of Saskatchewan and a PhD from Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity, where he stud­ied with Nobel Prize win­ner Harold Urey.
 
Con­tributed by Thanks to The News Jour­nal (Delaware)

The Fluid bed reactor for cracking petroleum

The first com­mer­cial cir­cu­lat­ing fluid bed reac­tor, PCLA #1 (Pow­dered Cat­a­lyst Louisiana), went on stream on May 25, 1942, in the Baton Rouge Refin­ery of the Stan­dard Oil Com­pany of New Jer­sey (now Exxon Cor­po­ra­tion). This first use of pow­dered cat­a­lysts in con­tin­u­ous oper­a­tion allowed the effi­cient crack­ing of heavy gas oils to meet the grow­ing demand for high-octane fuels. PCLA #1 was dis­man­tled in 1963 after 21 years of suc­cess­ful oper­a­tion. Today, more than 350 fluid bed reac­tors, includ­ing PCLA #2 and PCLA #3, are in use world­wide for the man­u­fac­ture of fuels, chem­i­cal inter­me­di­ates, and plastics.

The cre­ation and devel­op­ment of the flu­idized bed reac­tor sys­tem for cat­alytic crack­ing of petro­leum was a coop­er­a­tive effort that involved many tal­ented sci­en­tists and engi­neers. The group, esti­mated at one thou­sand, rep­re­sented the largest sin­gle con­cen­tra­tion of sci­en­tific effort, up to that time, directed toward a com­mon goal. Later dur­ing World War II, this effort was sur­passed only by the radar and Man­hat­tan projects in the United States.

War­ren K. Lewis and Edwin R. Gilliland obtained patent cov­er­age for the fluid bed idea. Pro­fes­sor Lewis was chair­man of the Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing Depart­ment at MIT and was one of the best known chem­i­cal engi­neers in the coun­try. The patent describ­ing the cir­cu­lat­ing cat­a­lyst fluid bed reactor-regenerator named Don­ald L. Camp­bell, Homer Z. Mar­tin, Egar V. Mur­phree and Charles W. Tyson inven­tors, all employed by the Stan­dard Oil Devel­op­ment Co. These patents were licensed to all the mem­bers of the Cat­alytic Research Asso­ciates.
 
From the Amer­i­can Chem­i­cal Soci­ety web­site. Read more at ACS Edu­ca­tional Por­tal:
The Fluid Bed Reac­tor
Con­tributed by ACS

The beginnings of the catalysis society in USA & the world

His­tory of the Catal­y­sis Soci­ety in USA

 
In 1949, a group of 7 sci­en­tists met in Philadel­phia to dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­ity of hold­ing reg­u­lar meet­ings in the field of catal­y­sis; they formed the Philadel­phia Catal­y­sis Club. In 1954–56 the Catal­y­sis Club orga­nized the 1st Inter­na­tional Con­gress on Catal­y­sis (ICC), which was held in Philadel­phia in 1956 (atten­dance of over 600 per­sons). By 1965 sev­eral other catal­y­sis clubs had been orga­nized in the USA and together they formed the Catal­y­sis Soci­ety of North Amer­ica. The first national meet­ing of the catal­y­sis soci­ety of North Amer­ica was held in 1969. The recent 19th North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety meet­ing was held in Philadel­phia in June 2005 with almost 1,100 atten­dees over 4.5 days of pre­sen­ta­tions in 6 par­al­lel ses­sions. The ICC even­tu­ally spawned the Inter­na­tional Asso­ci­a­tion of Catal­y­sis Soci­eties (IACS). Sep­a­rately, regional and national catal­y­sis soci­eties (such as EFCATS (Europe) and APACS (Asia)) have formed around the world as mem­bers of the IACS.
 
Con­tributed by Heinz Heine­mann & John Armor
14 June 2005.

Sohio Acrylonitrile Process

Acry­loni­trile is used to pro­duce plas­tics that are imper­me­able to gases and are ideal for shat­ter­proof bot­tles that hold chem­i­cals and cos­met­ics, clear “blis­ter packs” that keep meats fresh and med­ical sup­plies ster­ile, and pack­ag­ing for many other prod­ucts. It is also a com­po­nent in plas­tic resins, paints, adhe­sives, and coat­ings. The acry­loni­trile in those prod­ucts was made by a process dis­cov­ered and devel­oped in the 1950s by sci­en­tists and engi­neers at The Stan­dard Oil Com­pany, or Sohio.

In 1957, Sohio researchers devel­oped the “Sohio Acry­loni­trile Process,” an inno­v­a­tive single-step method of pro­duc­tion that made acry­loni­trile avail­able as a key raw mate­r­ial for chem­i­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing world­wide. Sohio’s ground­break­ing exper­i­men­ta­tion and bold engi­neer­ing brought plen­ti­ful, inex­pen­sive, high-purity acry­loni­trile to the mar­ket, a prin­ci­pal fac­tor in the evo­lu­tion and dra­matic growth of the acrylic plas­tics and fibers indus­tries. Today, nearly all acry­loni­trile is pro­duced by the Sohio process, and cat­a­lysts devel­oped at the War­rensville Lab­o­ra­tory are used in acry­loni­trile plants around the world. Sohio became part of The British Petro­leum Com­pany p.l.c. in 1987. The acry­loni­trile man­u­fac­tur­ing and cat­a­lyst and licens­ing busi­nesses are now part of INEOS.

The process is a single-step direct method for man­u­fac­tur­ing acry­loni­trile from propy­lene, ammo­nia, and air over a flu­idized bed cat­a­lyst. Today, nearly all acry­loni­trile is pro­duced by the Sohio process, and cat­a­lysts devel­oped at the War­rensville Lab­o­ra­tory are used in acry­loni­trile plants around the world. James L. Calla­han, a research asso­ciate at Sohio, coor­di­nated cat­a­lyst research and devel­op­ment, includ­ing the dis­cov­ery of improved meth­ods of cat­a­lyst man­u­fac­ture. James D. Idol, Jr., a research asso­ciate who super­vised and car­ried out research and fea­si­bil­ity test­ing, holds the basic patent for the process.
 
For more details, see the ACS Edu­ca­tional Por­tal: The Sohio Acry­loni­trile Process
Con­tributed by ACS

Mobil Research Team Inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame

Mobil research team, Clarence Chang, Dr. Anthony Sil­vestri and William Lang, were charged with doing exploratory research to open new fron­tiers in fuel and petro­chem­i­cal tech­nol­ogy. In 1972, while con­duct­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion of the reac­tion path­ways of polar organic com­pounds on acidic zeo­lites, the key exper­i­ment was con­ceived that led to the dis­cov­ery of the con­ver­sion of methanol to hydro­car­bons, includ­ing gasoline-range, high-octane aro­mat­ics, over the syn­thetic zeo­lite ZSM-5.

This dis­cov­ery became the basis of the Mobil Methanol-to-Gasoline (MTG) Process, the first syn­fuel process to be com­mer­cial­ized in 50 years, and sparked world­wide inter­est and research that con­tin­ues to this day. In 1985, it was com­mer­cial­ized in New Zealand as the Gas-to-Gasoline Process, in response to the Arab Oil Embargo and the ensu­ing energy cri­sis. The process oper­ated suc­cess­fully for a decade before being sus­pended due to the end of the energy cri­sis and declin­ing crude oil prices. How­ever, because methanol can be made from any gasi­fi­able car­bona­ceous mate­r­ial, such as coal and bio­mass, the MTG process may again play a vital role in a future of dwin­dling oil and gas resources.

This patent and asso­ci­ated patents revealed a new way to man­u­fac­ture gaso­line, bring­ing greater secu­rity and self-sufficiency to gasoline-reliant con­sumers, nations and the world at large. A grad­u­ate of Har­vard, Clarence D. Chang is the author of over 60 papers and ency­clo­pe­dia chap­ters, as well as a book, Hydro­car­bons from Methanol. For his dis­cov­ery, he was awarded the Amer­i­can Chem­i­cal Soci­ety 1992 E.V. Mur­phree Award and the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety 1999 Eugene J. Houdry Award among other hon­ors. He holds over 220 U.S. patents.

Dr. Sil­vestri authored or co-authored about 60 papers. In recog­ni­tion of his pro­fes­sional accom­plish­ments, Dr. Sil­vestri received the New York Catal­y­sis Soci­ety Award for Excel­lence in Catal­y­sis in 1984 and was named a Penn State Alumni Fel­low in 1995. He holds 28 U.S. patents.
 
Con­tributed by Clarence D. Chang, Anthony J. Sil­vestri and William H. Lang
Mobil Cen­tral Research

Hydrogenation of Fats and Oils

This is a huge busi­ness (world­wide con­sump­tion of fats and oils was ~180 bil­lion pounds in 2000) in which hydro­gena­tion cat­a­lysts (first patented in 1902 in Ger­many) are used to con­trol the shape, size and dis­tri­b­u­tion of dou­ble bonds in fatty acids which allows one to mod­ify the chem­i­cal sta­bil­ity and phys­i­cal behav­ior of fatty acids or glyc­erides. Nat­u­rally occur­ring oils from soy­beans, peanuts, coconut, cot­ton­seed, sun­flower seeds, corn, etc are used for many house­hold prod­ucts, such as mar­garine, cook­ing and salad oils, bak­ing dough, etc. The par­tial hydro­gena­tion of nat­ural oils to short­en­ings, salad oils, top­pings and var­i­ous other edi­ble prod­ucts is among the largest appli­ca­tion for hydro­gena­tion cat­a­lysts, often Nickel based. Fatty acids, both nat­ural and syn­thetic per­vade many areas of indus­trial activ­ity and are used in prod­ucts such as deter­gents, cos­met­ics, can­dles and crayons. Veg­etable oils derived from fatty acids and glyc­erol are build upon long chains of esters (glyc­erides) with vary­ing lev­els of unsat­u­ra­tion (up to 3 dou­ble bonds per ester chain. Highly unsat­u­rated chains are prone to oxi­da­tion (becom­ing ran­cid) in air, while par­tial hydro­gena­tion improves their sta­bil­ity and con­sis­tency. Soy, cot­ton­seed, and corn oil have dif­fer­ent lev­els of C16 and C18 ester chains with vary­ing lev­els of unsat­u­ra­tion. The func­tion of the hydro­gena­tion cat­a­lyst is to par­tially hydro­genate and iso­mer­ize dou­ble bonds in the ester chains, thus alter­ing the chem­i­cal sta­bil­ity and plas­tic prop­er­ties of the oils, while avoid­ing “over-hardening.”

Sources for more information:

  1. Fun­da­men­tals of Indus­trial Cat­alytic Processes, by R. Far­rauto and C. Bartholomew, Blackie Aca­d­e­mic, New York, 1997, pp 441–447.
  2. Hydro­gena­tion of Fats and Oils: The­ory and Prac­tice, H. Pat­ter­son, AOCS Press, Cham­paign, IL, 1994

 
Con­tributed by John Armor
30 Decem­ber, 2002

Engelhard Scientists Honored For Auto-Emission Technology Breakthrough

ISELIN, NJ, Novem­ber 11, 2004— Local Engel­hard sci­en­tists who invented a novel tech­nol­ogy that enables automak­ers to cost effec­tively com­ply with increas­ingly strin­gent engine-emission stan­dards, are recip­i­ents of a 2004 Thomas Alva Edi­son Patent Award.

The Research & Devel­op­ment Coun­cil of New Jer­sey pre­sented Harold Rabi­nowitz, Ron Heck and Zhicheng Hu with the award which rec­og­nizes ded­i­ca­tion to research and devel­op­ment that leads to truly inno­v­a­tive breakthroughs.

Rabi­nowitz, Heck and Hu were hon­ored at the R&D Council’s annual awards din­ner on Novem­ber 11, 2004 at New Jersey’s Lib­erty Sci­ence Center.

This inven­tion is one of the crit­i­cal enablers for a sub­stan­tial increase in the effi­ciency of cat­alytic emis­sion con­trol with­out a sig­nif­i­cant increase in cost,” said Mikhail Rod­kin, direc­tor of research and devel­op­ment, Envi­ron­men­tal Tech­nolo­gies. “It’s also a good exam­ple of the inge­nu­ity of Engel­hard sci­en­tists in the face of a for­mi­da­ble tech­ni­cal chal­lenge and mar­ket pressures.”

In the early 1990s, auto-emission sys­tems typ­i­cally con­tained two cat­a­lysts located under the vehi­cle floor away from the engine. Plac­ing the cat­a­lysts there pro­tected them from the extreme heat of engine exhaust gases, but led to a long warm-up time and high “cold-start” emis­sions (those dur­ing the first two min­utes fol­low­ing igni­tion). To com­pen­sate for low cat­alytic activ­ity at low tem­per­a­tures, the cat­a­lysts had to con­tain sig­nif­i­cant amounts of pre­cious met­als, typ­i­cally plat­inum and rhodium. The three Engel­hard sci­en­tists invented a close-coupled cat­a­lyst sys­tem that changed this paradigm.

The essence of the dis­cov­ery made by Rabi­nowitz, Heck and Hu was to employ a pal­la­dium cat­a­lyst with sub­stan­tially no addi­tional oxy­gen stor­age com­po­nent in the first close-coupled posi­tion, fol­lowed by down­stream cat­a­lyst that includes an oxy­gen stor­age com­po­nent. This enabled the use of the more ther­mally sta­ble and lower-cost pal­la­dium in the close-coupled cat­a­lyst with­out adversely affect­ing cat­alytic activity.

To date, close-coupled cat­a­lysts have been installed on an esti­mated 10 mil­lion vehi­cles world­wide. Their use has enabled many SUVs to have emis­sions com­pa­ra­ble to those from automobiles.

Eger Murphree and the Four Horsemen: FCC, Fluid Catalytic Cracking

Don­ald Camp­bell, Homer Mar­tin, Eger Mur­phree and Charles Tyson, who were known for their devel­op­ment of a process still used today to pro­duce more than half of the world’s gaso­line. These “Four Horse­men” were part of the Exxon Research Co. The world’s first com­mer­cial Fluid Cat­alytic Crack­ing facil­ity began pro­duc­tion for Exxon in 1942. The Fluid Cat­alytic Crack­ing process rev­o­lu­tion­ized the petro­leum indus­try by more effi­ciently trans­form­ing higher boil­ing oils into lighter, usable products.

Their notable US Patent No. 2,451,804: A Method of and Appa­ra­tus for Con­tact­ing Solids and Gases describes their mile­stone inven­tion. Over half the world’s gaso­line is cur­rently pro­duced by a process devel­oped in 1942 by the “Four Horse­men” of Exxon Research and Engi­neer­ing Com­pany. The world’s first com­mer­cial Fluid Cat­alytic Crack­ing facil­ity began pro­duc­tion for Exxon on May 25, 1942. The Fluid Cat Crack­ing process rev­o­lu­tion­ized the petro­leum indus­try by more effi­ciently trans­form­ing higher boil­ing oils into lighter, usable prod­ucts. When Exxon’s first com­mer­cial cat crack­ing facil­ity went on-line in 1942, the U.S. had just entered World War II and was fac­ing a short­age of high-octane avi­a­tion gaso­line. This new process allowed the U.S. petro­leum indus­try to increase out­put of avi­a­tion fuel by 6,000% over the next three years. Fluid Cat Crack­ing also aided the rapid buildup of buta­di­ene pro­duc­tion, which enhanced Exxon’s process for mak­ing syn­thetic butyl rubber–another new tech­nol­ogy vital to the Allied war effort. By the 1930s, Exxon began look­ing for a way to increase the yield of high-octane gaso­line from crude oil.

Researchers dis­cov­ered that a finely pow­dered cat­a­lyst behaved like a fluid when mixed with oil in the form of vapor. Dur­ing the crack­ing process, a cat­a­lyst will split hydro­car­bon mol­e­cule chains into smaller pieces. These smaller, or cracked, mol­e­cules then go through a dis­til­la­tion process to retrieve the usable prod­uct. Dur­ing the crack­ing process, the cat­a­lyst becomes cov­ered with car­bon; the car­bon is then burned off and the cat­a­lyst can be re-used. Camp­bell, Mar­tin, Mur­phree, and Tyson began think­ing of a design that would allow for a mov­ing cat­a­lyst to ensure a steady and con­tin­u­ous crack­ing oper­a­tion. The four ulti­mately invented a flu­idized solids reac­tor bed and a pipe trans­fer sys­tem between the reac­tor and the regen­er­a­tor unit in which the cat­a­lyst is processed for re-use. In this way, the solids and gases are con­tin­u­ously brought in con­tact with each other to bring on the chem­i­cal change.

This work cul­mi­nated in a 100 barrel-per-day demon­stra­tion pilot plant located at Exxon’s Baton Rouge facil­ity. The first com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion plant processed 13,000 bar­rels of heavy oil daily, mak­ing 275,000 gal­lons of gasoline.

Con­sid­ered essen­tial to refin­ery oper­a­tion, Fluid Cat Crack­ing pro­duces gaso­line as well as heat­ing oil, fuel oil, propane, butane, and chem­i­cal feed­stocks that are instru­men­tal in pro­duc­ing other prod­ucts such as plas­tics, syn­thetic rub­bers and fab­rics, and cos­met­ics. Dur­ing today’s Fluid Cat Crack­ing process, a box­car load of cat­a­lyst is mixed with a stream of oil vapor every minute. It is this mix­ture, behav­ing like a fluid, that moves con­tin­u­ously through the sys­tem as crack­ing reac­tions take place. Fluid Cat Crack­ing cur­rently takes place in over 370 Fluid Cat Crack­ing units in refiner­ies around the world, pro­duc­ing almost 1/2 bil­lion gal­lons of gaso­line daily. It is con­sid­ered one of the most impor­tant chem­i­cal engi­neer­ing achieve­ments of the 20th cen­tury. Fluid Cat Crack­ing tech­nol­ogy con­tin­ues to evolve as cleaner high-performance fuels are explored.
 
Con­tributed by National Inven­tors Hall of Fame web­site
1999

Early Automotive Exhaust Catalysts

When cat­a­lysts were first put on Amer­i­can vehi­cles in the fall of 1974 (1975 model year), their func­tion was to cat­alyze the oxi­da­tion of CO and unburned and par­tially burned hydro­car­bons to CO2 and H2O. All that was needed was to be sure that there was enough O2 present when the A/F ratios were too low to pro­vide it ‘nat­u­rally’. For some vehi­cles, there was enough O2 present in the exhaust at most oper­at­ing con­di­tions to meet the emis­sion stan­dards (espe­cially the eas­ier 49-state Fed­eral stan­dards) and there was no extra hard­ware (or soft­ware) needed. On other vehi­cles, or in Cal­i­for­nia in gen­eral, more O2 was needed when the A/F ratios were low than was in the exhaust, and pro­vi­sions were made to add O2 by a ram air ven­turi horn or by an engine dri­ven air pump, deliv­er­ing air to the inlet to the cat­alytic con­verter. Doing this dur­ing startup of the engine would hin­der the warmup of the cat­a­lyst, and there would have been some sort of con­trol to pre­vent deliv­ery of the extra air to the con­verter until some time had elapsed or some tem­per­a­ture had been achieved. In the sim­plest sys­tem, the air deliv­ery might have been acti­vated by the same con­trol that closed the choke.

Meet­ing the NOx stan­dards in the late 70s led to the three-component con­trol cat­a­lysts, which were capa­ble of using the CO, H2 and hydro­car­bons in the exhaust enter­ing the con­verter to reduce the NOx to N2 while they were being removed by reac­tion with the NOx and O2. How­ever, removal of all three pol­lu­tants depended on pro­vid­ing an exhaust mix­ture with just exactly enough reduc­tants as oxi­dants; this required the A/F ratio of the air/fuel mix­ture being exactly that required to the­o­ret­i­cally burn all of the fuel to CO2 and H2O, or sto­i­chio­met­ric. This was achieved with a closed-loop sys­tem which included an oxy­gen sen­sor exposed to the gas leav­ing the cat­a­lyst that pro­vided a volt­age sig­nal pro­por­tional to the devi­a­tion of the exhaust mix­ture from sto­i­chiom­e­try, and a feed­back sys­tem (com­puter) to effect a change in the rate of feed­ing fuel to the engine to drive the exhaust com­po­si­tion (and sen­sor out­put) back to sto­i­chiom­e­try. The oxy­gen sen­sor was devel­oped as the best way to do this, although work was done to try to develop CO sen­sors, etc., as alternatives.

Their are a num­ber of good reviews which describe these changes, includ­ing those by Lester, Tay­lor, Hege­dus, Briggs, etc. I would par­tic­u­larly sug­gest, for your pur­poses, L. L. Hege­dus and J. J. Gum­ble­ton, CHEMTECH, 10 (10) 630 (1980).
 
Con­tributed by George Lester
Adjunct Pro­fes­sor, North­west­ern Uni­ver­sity and Pres­i­dent, George Lester, Inc.
1200 Pick­wick,
Salem, VA 24153
Phone 540 375 3154
Fax 540 387 2787
Skygeorge@aol.com

Cracking of crude petroleum to gasoline

The first full-scale com­mer­cial cat­alytic cracker for the selec­tive con­ver­sion of crude petro­leum to gaso­line went on stream at the Mar­cus Hook Refin­ery in 1937. Pio­neered by Eugene Jules Houdry (1892–1962), the cat­alytic crack­ing of petro­leum rev­o­lu­tion­ized the indus­try. The Houdry process con­served nat­ural oil by dou­bling the amount of gaso­line pro­duced by other processes. It also greatly improved the gaso­line octane rat­ing, mak­ing pos­si­ble today’s effi­cient, high-compression auto­mo­bile engines, Dur­ing World War II, the high-octane fuel shipped from Houdry plants played a crit­i­cal role in the Allied vic­tory, The Houdry lab­o­ra­to­ries in Lin­wood became the research and devel­op­ment cen­ter for this and sub­se­quent Houdry inventions.

The inven­tion and devel­op­ment of gasoline-fueled motor vehi­cles has had a pro­found influ­ence on human his­tory pro­vid­ing trans­port for indus­trial prod­ucts and employ­ment for mil­lions and deter­min­ing where and how we live, work, and play. In the United States today, more than half of the 300 mil­lion gal­lons of gaso­line used each day to fuel more than 150 mil­lion pas­sen­ger cars is pro­duced by catalytic-cracking tech­nol­ogy. High-octane gaso­line paved the way to high compression-ratio engines, higher engine per­for­mance, and greater fuel economy.

The most dra­matic ben­e­fit of the ear­li­est Houdry units was in the pro­duc­tion of 100-octane avi­a­tion gaso­line, just before the out­break of World War II. The Houdry plants pro­vided a bet­ter gaso­line for blend­ing with scarce high-octane com­po­nents, as well as by-products that could be con­verted by other processes to make more high-octane frac­tions. The increased per­for­mance meant that Allied planes were bet­ter than Axis planes by a fac­tor of 15 per­cent to 30 per­cent in engine power for take-off and climb­ing; 25 per­cent in pay­load; 10 per­cent in max­i­mum speed; and 12 per­cent in oper­a­tional alti­tude. In the first six months of 1940, at the time of the Bat­tle of Britain, 1.1 mil­lion bar­rels per month of 100-octane avi­a­tion gaso­line was shipped to the Allies. Houdry plants pro­duced 90 per­cent of this cat­alyt­i­cally cracked gaso­line dur­ing the first two years of the war.
 
For more details, see the ACS Edu­ca­tional Por­tal: The Houdry Process
Con­tributed by ACS