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Frederick G. Cottrell

AKA Frederick Gardner Cottrell

Born: 10-Jan-1877
Birthplace: Oakland, CA
Died: 16-Nov-1948
Location of death: Berkeley, CA
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Buried, Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, CA

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Inventor, Chemist, Philanthropist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Smokestack filters to fight pollution

American chemist Frederick G. Cottrell was one of the first scientists to work on resolving the pollution problems wrought by the industrial revolution. He developed the "Cottrellizing" process in 1905, to eliminate the unwanted production of arsenic as a pollutant in the manufacture of sulfuric acid. The following year, after the Selby Smelting and Refining Company lost a lawsuit over plumes of airborne sulfur rising from its smelting facilities, he invented the electrostatic precipitator, a device which collects particles from their factory's exhaust fumes. Tests showed that his device removed more than 90 percent of toxins and pollutants from escaping smoke and gases.

In addition to his scientific work, Cottrell is also remembered for his philanthropy. In 1912, while the frustration of finding funding for his work remained fresh in his mind, he donated the rights to proceeds from his patents toward establishment of Research Corporation, one of the first foundations established to underwrites scientific research. Among other endeavors, Research Corp provided principle funding for Robert Goddard's pioneering experiments with rocketry and the research that led to Ernest Lawrence's invention of the cyclotron.

Father: Henry Cottrell
Mother: Cynthia Durfee Cottrell
Wife: Jessie M. Fulton (m. 1904, two children both died in infancy)

    High School: (1893)
    University: BS Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley (1896)
    Scholar: Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley (1896-97)
    Teacher: Oakland High School, Oakland, CA (1897-1900)
    University: MS Physical Chemistrty, University of Berlin (1901)
    University: PhD Chemistry, University of Leipzig (1902)
    Lecturer: Physical Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley (1902-06)
    Teacher: Ass't Prof. of Physical Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley (1906-11)

    SCI Sir William H. Perkin Medal 1919
    ACS Willard Gibbs Medal 1920
    ASME Alexander Holley Medal 1937
    WES Washington Award 1937
    National Inventors Hall of Fame 1992
    Research Corporation President (1938-52)
    Research Corporation President, Research Associates, Inc. (1935-38)
    Smithsonian Institution Consultant (1928-29)
    US Agriculture Department Director of Fertilizer and Fixed Nitrogen Research (1927-30)
    US Agriculture Department Director of Fixed Nitrogen Research Laboratory (1922-27)
    National Research Council Chair of Chemistry and Chemical Technology (1921-22)
    US Official Director, US Bureau of Mines (1920-22)
    US Official Ass't Director, US Bureau of Mines (1919-20)
    US Official Metallurgist, US Bureau of Mines (1916-19)
    Research Corporation Co-Founder (1912)
    US Official Chemist, US Bureau of Mines (1911-16)
    Selby Smelting and Refining Co. Consultant (1907-10)
    DuPont Consultant, Pinole, CA (1906)
    American Association for the Advancement of Science
    American Chemical Society
    American Electrochemical Society
    American Institute of Chemists
    American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers
    Mining & Metallurgical Society of America
    National Academy of Sciences 1939
    Phi Beta Kappa Society
    Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society
    Société de Chimie Industrielle Foreign Member
    Western Society of Engineers
    English Ancestry Maternal


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