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THE MAN WHOSE DISCOVERIES HAVE FREED SEVERAL AMERICAN INDUSTRIES FROM FOREIGN DOMINATION Dr. Walter F. Rittman, who has discovered a commercial method of making toluo! and benzol, indispensable products which heretofore we have been compelled to buy from Germany.


HEN the terrific shock of war struck the civilized world last July, several industries in America were totally paralyzed. These were the industries depending upon toluol and benzol; and they were paralyzed because Germany was the only country that could furnish satisfactory supplies of these products at a price commerce could pay.

Inasmuch as these products were among the most important chemicals used in manufacturing, frantic efforts were made to gain knowledge of the German secret, and free American manufacturers from this paralysis. Most of them were fruitless; and one even cost the lives of the men engaged in it.

But success has finally crowned the efforts of one chemist who only a month


By Charles W. Person

Dr. Rittman's discovery of some of Germany's most valuable chemical secrets again proves that American research laboratories are ready instantly to respond to our commercial needs. What this brilliant scientist has accomplished, and an interpretation of the importance of his work, are here set forth.-The Editors.

ago discovered a process for getting these products cheaply from petroleum, and a process which more than triples the yield of gasoline from the crude oil.

The man who has done this is Dr. Walter F. Rittman, chemical engineer of the Bureau of Mines. Furthermore, he has patented the processes-and he has given the patents freely to the American people.

Secretary Lane of the Interior Department, in announcing Dr. Rittman's two chemical discoveries, said they were of epoch-making importance. "When it is realized that the gasoline industry each year in this country yields products amounting in value to between one hundred and one hundred and fifty million. dollars, the importance of this discovery is seen," said Secretary Lane. "It was but two years ago that the automobile industry, fearful that the supply of gasoline might not be adequate for its rapidly expanding business, offered through the International Association of Automobile Clubs a prize of $100,000 for a substitute for gasoline that would cost less than

gasoline. We have the process that could monopoly, is the basis for much optimishave been a prize-winner."

Speaking of the other discovery, said he: "Were it not for this it is possible that in an emergency we might be compelled to rely largely on the greatly inferior explosives that were used in the time of our Civil War, and this would spell national disaster."

Toluol and benzol are chemicals that are necessary in the manufacture of dyestuffs and high explosives, and up to now they have come almost exclusively from Germany. Heretofore they have been obtained from coal tar alone, and the Germans held the secret. They have been willing enough to sell the products to anyone who did not attempt to overhaul Germany in her campaign for the world's trade; but they took a good share of the manufacturer's profit, and they had the power of choking off his business whenever they wished.

But, now, in time of great national stress, in which the United States would be shut off from an outside supply of benzol and toluol, we can produce for the use of the army and navy from our large supplies of petroleum practically any amount of these materials desired. What this discovery will mean also to the struggling dyestuff dealers and to the synthetic drug industry in this country, by liberating them from the fetters of German

tic conjecture. At all events, it is comforting to think that we have taken the first great stride toward economic independence in the same spirit which won this country her political independence, and that at last we are playing the game that gave Germany absolute control of many industries.

The process for yielding gasoline treats crude petroleum by a method whereby the output of gasoline is increased two hundred per cent, and whereby gasoline may be extracted from residue and oils that did not give up any gasoline under the old process. The old method of refining petroleum, which was a simple distillation process, was to heat up the material in a still and condense the vapors coming off. Gasoline is all of the vapor which passes off up to 150 degrees centigrade. Dr. Rittman's experimental work has been done at various ranges of pressure from up to nearly five hundred. pounds a square inch down to partial vacuum, and at ranges of temperature from 1000 degrees centigrade down to the lowest temperature at which the apparatus could be worked.

These notable discoveries were made by Dr. Rittman in his laboratory in Havemeyer Hall at Columbia University. Although he has been diligently besieged by interested persons to explain in detail


THE CONSEQUENCE OF ANOTHER MAN'S EFFORT TO MASTER THE GERMAN SECRET The chemists of Recker's Aniline and Chemical Works, Brooklyn, New York, lost their lives in an explosion which

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grees centigrade. This 'breaks' the kerosene molecules up into small gasoline molecules. The process is similar to the popping of corn and is very simple. The old way was to distill off the gasoline from the liquid, and when that was done no more gasoline could be obtained. By my process we break up the residuethe big molecules that were not used heretofore to get gasoline. It virtually begins where the old process leaves off. Double the amount of gasoline is obtained by the breaking-up process. The residue solids, which sell for about three cents a gallon, are converted into gasoline, which sells for about twelve cents a gallon."

The same process is used largely in obtaining toluol and benzol, he ex

"My process will supply sufficient toluol and benzol for high explosives," he said, "from which we are now cut off by the war abroad. Mind you, I do not claim to cheapen the process of producing benzol or toluol, nor for that matter do I claim to have lessened the cost of deriving gasoline from petroleum. My process makes it possible, though, to get gasoline from cheaper oils and residues, and therefore the cost is lessened in this way."

Dr. Rittman was born in Sandusky, Ohio, December 2, 1883, which makes him 32 years old. It was only seven months ago that he received his doctor's degree from Columbia University. Previous to his research work he had served as a chemist in Philadelphia, and as a lecturer and laboratory instructor at Swarthmore College.

After receiving his degree of doctor of philosophy from Columbia, he was given a position with the Bureau of Mines in the Pittsburgh laboratory. He was not here long, however. He was more accustomed to the Columbia laboratory apparatus, and at the special invitation of President Butler he returned to Columbia and continued his experiments, not as a student, but as a chemist in the Bureau of Mines. His discoveries followed shortly.

There is no student's pallor in the face of this young chemist. He looks like a football star in the pink of condition, muscular and active, and fairly exuding health and energy. He attributes his success to a strong body acquired in football battles and college athletics. His wife has been an indispensable aid to him in his laboratory work. She looked up three thousand separate articles bearing on his subjects, and also acted as official translator from all languages, including the Russian.

"Anybody that wants to build a factory," said Dr. Rittman, "and make gasoline, smokeless powder, or dyes will be able to use my patents. They belong to the whole American people, and no

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A NEW dimming socket that is oper

ated by turning the shade, instead of by the usual chain-pull, is being manufactured extensively. Four turns give four different intensities of light, and a fifth puts out the light. The absence of a chain, and the bell shape, make this light an attractive addition to almost any chandelier or fixture.

The dimming is effected by means of a series of helically-wound resistance coils, mounted on a spool, or drum, and connected to contact bars. The turning of

the shade rotates this

against the contact points leading current to the lamp. The socket is fastened permanently to the fixture stem by a thread and set screw. This last feature should prove attractive to hotel men, since the socket cannot be stolen.


drum, and brings differ- DIMS LIGHT WITHOUT CHAIN


ATENT that utilizes

the car top as a tent pole is now being placed on the market. The new tent is made in many styles and sizes for different purposes, thus enabling the tourist to get one that suits his car and the size of his party. The tent can be set up almost immediately, since it comes with stakes and ropes

ent resistance coils Turning the socket alters the intensity of illu attached.




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Y seven o'clock in the


evening, after the fire in the Edison plant at West Orange, New Jersey, had been extinguished, workmen were clearing away the débris by electric light. The afternoon following the fire, the great inventor called for assistance from a lighting company bearing his name. He wanted the ruins illuminated so that work might proceed twenty-four hours a day. At dinner time that evening there were five incandescent searchlights, giving a total of 2,500,000 candle-power, on the site of the burned buildings. The next day twenty-five 1000-watt lamps were strung in addition. Men with wagons started carting away the worthless material at once and others with oxy-acetylene torches began cutting at the tangled mass of steel girders. The site of the first building which the wreckers attacked was ready for the contractors and construction work within a few days.


EDISON USES CHARACTERISTIC METHODS When fire nearly destroyed his plant in East Orange, he had these lights installed and went to work clearing the ruins,

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