Mooney was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He achieved a A.B. degree from the University of Missouri in 1917 and PhD in physics from the University of Chicago in 1923. He worked for the United States Rubber Company.
He developed the Mooney viscometer (used to measure Mooney viscosity) and other testing equipment used in the rubber industry. He also proposed the Mooney-Rivlin solid constitutive law describing the hyperelastic stress-strain behavior of rubber. He was the first recipient of the Bingham Medal from the Society of Rheology in 1948. He received the Charles Goodyear Medal in 1962. He is the namesake of the Melvin Mooney Distinguished Technology Award of the American Chemical Society Rubber Division.
- J. H. Dillon (1948) J. Colloid Sci. 4 (3) 187-8 "Introduction of Melvin Mooney as E. C. Bingham Medallist"
- ACS Rubber Division Science & Technology Awards
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