Percy Gilchrist

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Percy Gilchrist
Born27 December 1851
Lyme Regis
Died16 December 1935 (1935-12-17) (aged 83)
NationalityUnited Kingdom
Alma materFelsted
Scientific career

Percy Carlyle Gilchrist FRS[1] (27 December 1851 – 16 December 1935) was a British chemist and metallurgist.


Gilchrist was born in Lyme Regis, Dorset, the son of Alexander and Anne Gilchrist and studied at Felsted and the Royal School of Mines. He caught Scarlet fever from his sister and was very ill. His father then caught the disease and he died in November 1861.[2]

He is best known for his collaboration with his cousin, Sidney Gilchrist Thomas on what became the standard "basic process" for making steel. This enabled the production of low-phosphorus steel from local high-phosphorus ores by changing the standard acidic process to a basic process which meant that steel became cheaply available to British industry — low phosphorus ores being available by importation only. He developed the process in 1875-77 together with his cousin.[3] It involved melting pig iron in a converter similar to that used in the Bessemer process and subjecting it to prolonged blowing. The oxygen in the blast of air oxidized carbon and other impurities, and the addition of lime at this stage caused the oxides to separate out as a slag on the surface of the molten metal. A side benefit was that the phosphorus containing slag could be used as an agricultural fertilizer.

He was elected vice-president of the Iron and Steel Institute and in 1891 a Fellow of the Royal Society.[4]

He died in 1935. He had married Nora, the daughter of Captain L N Fitzmaurice RN.


  1. ^ Carpenter, H. C. H. (1936). "Percy Carlyle Gilchrist. 1851-1935". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 2 (5): 19–99. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1936.0002.
  2. ^ "Penn Special Collections-Gilchrist Biography". Retrieved 2018-05-22.
  3. ^ Carr, J. C.; Taplin, W. (1962). History of the British Steel Industry. Harvard University Press Cambridge. pp. 99–101. Retrieved 18 June 2015 – via Questia. (Subscription required (help)).
  4. ^ "Library and Archive". Royal Society. Retrieved 2012-08-06.