Edith M. Flanigen
|Edith Marie Flanigen|
Edith Flanigen with U.S. President Barack Obama
|Born||Edith Marie Flanigen
28 April 1929
Buffalo, New York, United States
|Institutions||Union Carbide, UOP|
|Alma mater||D'Youville College
Syracuse University (M. S.)
Edith Marie Flanigen (born April 28, 1929, Buffalo, New York) is an American chemist, known for her work on synthesis of emeralds, and later zeolites for molecular sieves at Union Carbide. She was the first female recipient of the Perkin Medal in 1992.
Edith Marie Flanigen was born April 28, 1929, Buffalo, New York. She and her two sisters, Joan and Jane, were introduced to chemistry by their high school teacher, Sister St. Mary. Joan, Edith, and Jane all went on to study chemistry at D'Youville College under Dorothea Fitzgerald, who was responsible for all chemistry courses. Edith Flanigen graduated class president and valedictorian.
In 1952, Edith Flanigen went into the Union Carbide company. Her job at first was the identification, purification and extraction of different silicone polymers. In 1956, she moved to the molecular sieves group. In 1973, she was the first woman at Union Carbide to be named corporate research fellow, and in 1986, senior corporate research fellow. She was moved to UOP (a joint venture between Union Carbide and Allied Signal) in 1988, where she was named senior research fellow. Flanigen was promoted to UOP Fellow in 1991. Edith Flanigen retired from UOP 1994. Following her career at UOP, and through at least 2004, Edith Flanigen remained active professionally, including as a consultant with UOP.
In her 42 year career associated with Union Carbide, Edith Flanigen invented more than 200 different synthetic substances, authored or co-authored over 36 publications, and was awarded at least 109 patents.
In 1956 Flanigen began working on molecular sieves. Molecular sieves are crystal compounds with molecular sized pores that can filter or separate very complex substances. Edith Flanigen is best known as the inventor of zeolite Y, a specific molecular sieve. Zeolite Y was a certain type of molecular sieve that could refine petroleum. Zeolite Y surpassed Zeolite X before it. When refining “crude oil”, or petroleum, it must be separated into all of its different parts, or fractions. Gasoline is one of the many fractions that come from refining petroleum. Flanigen’s zeolites are used as catalysts, or a substance that enhances chemical reactions. Zeolite Y is a catalyst that enhances the amount of gasoline fractioned from petroleum, making refining petroleum safer and more productive.
In addition to her work on molecular sieves, Flanigen also co-invented a synthetic emerald, which Union Carbide produced and sold for many years. The emeralds were used mainly in masers (predecessors to lasers) and were even used in jewelry for a time, in a line marketed as the “Quintessa Collection.”
In 2014, the Edith Flanigen Award was created by the Collaborative Research Centre at Humboldt University of Berlin. The award is to be given annually to an outstanding female scientist at the early stage of her career. The first award was given to Natacha Krins for her work at the University of Paris.
Honors and Awards
- Perkin Medal (1992) - Edith M. Flanigen was the first female recipient of the prestigious Perkin Medal.
- Garvan Medal (1993) 
- National Inventors Hall of Fame (2002)
- Lemelson–MIT Lifetime Achievement Award (2004)
- Edith M. Flanigen Honeywell invitational lecture in material science series (2012), inaugurated October 2012
- National Medal of Technology and Innovation (2014)
- Jackson, David (October 3, 2014). "Obama honors nation's top scientists". USA Today.
- Orna, Mary (2009). ""Women Chemists in the National Inventors’ Hall of Fame: Their remarkable lives and their award-winning research"". Bulletin of the History of Chemistry 34 (1).
- Moriarty, Barbara. "Dr. Edith Marie Flanigen". The American Chemical Society, Chicago Section, Women Chemists Committee. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- Engineering.com. "Edith Flanigen". Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- InventorOfTheWeek. "Inventor of the Week: Edith Flanigen". MIT School of Engineering. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
- Lemelson-MIT (2004). "Edith Flanigen: 2004 Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award Winner". MIT School of Engineering. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- Marsh, Andrea C. (1992). ""Short List, In the Chemistry"". Syracuse University Magazine 9 (2): 7.
- Miller, Susan (May 1, 2008). "Syracuse University to present honorary degrees to nine individuals of exceptional achievement at Commencement May 11". SU News. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- NIHF. "Inventor Profile: Edith Flanigen". National Inventors Hall of Fame. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
- UOP (2012-10-19). "Honeywell’s UOP honors Avelino Corma at Edith M. Flanigen Honeywell invitational lecture in material science series". Honeywell UOP. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
- US 3306922, Flanigen, Edith M.; Richard M. Barrer & Patrick J. Denny, "Molecular sieve adsorbents", published March 22, 1961, issued Feb. 28, 1967
- US 3341302, Flanigen, Edith M. & Allan M. Taylor, "Flux-melt method for growing single crystals having the structure of beryl", published Oct. 6, 1964, issued Sept. 12, 1967