Melvin De Groote
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Melvin De Groote (February 27, 1895 – February 3, 1963) was an American chemist and one of its great inventors. At the time of his death, he held 925 patents, making him the tenth most prolific inventor in history. Time magazine's millennium issue recognized him as second only to Thomas Edison in this regard, although, since this article was published, others have exceeded his patent count. When one takes into account the fact that Edison died at the age of 84 and held 1,093 US patents, De Groote's contributions seem even more impressive.
De Groote invented and patented many of the de-emulsifying agents that separate crude oil from salt, sulfur, and water. Without de-emulsification, most of the oil pumped in the US for the last century would have been too corrosive for pipelines or tankers and would have been discarded.
Petrolite, De Groote's employer of 36 years, was a pioneer in oil field treatment. De Groote was recruited to the firm from the Mellon Institute in 1924 upon the death of the company's founder, William S. Barnickel. Under De Groote's leadership, the company became an industry giant.
Of Dutch-Jewish ancestry, De Groote was born in Wheeling, West Virginia on February 27, 1895, to Luis De Groote and Jennie De Groote (née Fuld). He attended the Sistersville, West Virginia High School. De Groote graduated from Ohio State University in 1915 with a degree in chemical engineering. He took a second chemical engineering degree in 1942, also from Ohio State, and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science in 1955. He was awarded the Lamme Medal in 1950 by the College of Engineering for "meritorious achievement in engineering and the chemical arts". He was also a member of Tau Beta Pi, an engineering society.
De Groote, in his work as a flavorings expert at the Mellon Institute, was rumored to have been hired by Coca Cola to re-formulate its syrups to eliminate the alcoholic ingredients that were outlawed during prohibition (the company does not acknowledge any changes to its recipes).
- The Missouri Historical Society (April 1963). Jensen, Dana O., ed. The Bulletin 19 (3-4): 302.
- Ohio State University Research Foundation (1952). Annual Report: 3.
- "Death Master File". United States Social Security Administration. Retrieved 2012-11-19.
- Masters of invention, Kevin Maney, Portfolio.com, October 15, 2007