Edward Goodrich Acheson

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Edward Goodrich Acheson
Edward G Acheson.jpg
Edward Goodrich Acheson, from a sketch in The Americana 1911
Born (1856-03-09)March 9, 1856
Washington, Pennsylvania, USA
Died July 6, 1931(1931-07-06) (aged 75)
New York City, USA
Nationality American
Known for silicon carbide
Notable awards John Scott Medal (1894)
John Scott Medal (1901)

Edward Goodrich Acheson (March 9, 1856 – July 6, 1931) was an American chemist.[1] Born in Washington, Pennsylvania, he was the inventor of the Acheson process, which is still used to make Silicon carbide (carborundum)[2][3] and later a manufacturer of carborundum and graphite. Thomas Edison put him to work on September 12, 1880 at his Menlo Park, New Jersey laboratory under John Kruesi. Acheson experimented on making a conducting carbon that Edison could use in his electric light bulbs.[4]

Biography[edit]

Edward G. Acheson House in Monongahela
Historical marker for the birthplace of Edward Acheson in Washington, Pennsylvania

Acheson attended the Bellefonte Academy for three years, 1870–72; this being the totality of his formal education.[5] Acheson began his career as a surveying assistant for the Pittsburgh Southern Railroad.[6]

In 1884, Acheson left Edison and became supervisor at a plant competing to manufacture electric lamps. He began working on the development of methods to produce artificial diamond in an electric furnace. After heating a mixture of clay and coke in an iron bowl with a carbon arc light he found shiny, hexagonal crystals (silicon carbide) attached to the carbon electrode. He called it carborundum.

In 1891 Acheson built an electricity plant in Port Huron at the suggestion of Edison, and used the electricity to experiment with carborundum.

On February 28, 1893, he received a patent on this highly effective abrasive although a 1900 decision gave "priority broadly" to the Electric Smelting and Aluminum Company "for reducing ores and other substances by the incandescent method".[7]

Acheson received 70 patents relating to abrasives, graphite products, reduction of oxides, and refractories.

He died on July 6, 1931, in New York City.

Recognition[edit]

In 1953, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission installed a historical marker outside his home, noting the historic importance of his achievements.[8] In 1997, Acheson was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.[9] His house, the Edward G. Acheson House in Monongahela, Pennsylvania is a National Historic Landmark.[10]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Chambers Biographical Dictionary, ISBN 0-550-18022-2, page 6
  2. ^ Weimer, A.W. (1997). Carbide, Nitride and Boride Materials Synthesis and Processing. London: Chapman & Hall. pp. 115–122. ISBN 0-412-54060-6. 
  3. ^ Edward Goodrich Acheson – Carborundum
  4. ^ "Edward Goodrich Acheson". Chemical Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 2008-10-22. "Edward G. Acheson (1856–1931) was raised in the coal fields of southwestern Pennsylvania. He left school at the age of 16 to help support his family after his father died, but devoted his evenings to scientific pursuits—primarily electrical experiments. In 1880 he had the temerity to attempt to sell a battery of his own invention to Thomas Edison and wound up working for Edison at Menlo Park. After a year he was sent to Europe to install electrical lighting systems in the Hotel de Ville in Antwerp and La Scala in Milan, among other public places." 
  5. ^ Bellefonte Academy: Notable Alumni
  6. ^ "Dr. Acheson Dies; Eminent Scientist, Discoverer of Carborumdum". New York Times. 7 July 1931. Retrieved 3 March 2009. 
  7. ^ Mabery, Charles F. (1900). "Notes, On Carborundum". Journal of the American Chemical Society (Johnson Reprint Company, via Google Books scan of Harvard University copy) XXII (Part II): 706–707. doi:10.1021/ja02048a014. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  8. ^ "Edward Acheson - PHMC Historical Markers". Historical Marker Database. Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. Retrieved December 9, 2013. 
  9. ^ National Inventors Hall of Fame
  10. ^ "Edward G. Acheson House". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-10-01.