Robert Banks (chemist)

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Robert Banks (chemist)
Born November 24, 1921 (1921-03-03)
Piedmont, Missouri
Died January 3, 1989 (1989-01-04)
Nationality American
Fields chemistry
Institutions Phillips Petroleum
Alma mater Southeast Missouri State University
Known for high-density polyethylene
Influences J. Paul Hogan

Robert L. Banks (November 24, 1921 – January 3, 1989) was an American chemist. He was born and grew up in Piedmont, Missouri. He attended Southeast Missouri State University, and initiated into Alpha Phi Omega in 1940. He joined the Phillips Petroleum company in 1946 and worked there until he retired in 1985. He died in Missouri on January 3, 1989.

Technical contributions[edit]

He was a fellow research chemist of J. Paul Hogan. They began working together in 1946, and in 1951 invented "crystalline polypropylene" and high-density polyethylene (HDPE). These plastics were initially known by the name Marlex. The polymerization of ethylene was made possible by their discovery of the so-called Phillips catalyst.[1]


In 1987, Banks and Hogan won the Perkin Medal, and in 2001 they were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.[2][3] Both were given a Heroes of Chemistry award by the American Chemical Society in 1989.[4]


  1. ^ Max P. McDaniel "A Review of the Phillips Supported Chromium Catalyst and Its Commercial Use for Ethylene Polymerization" Advances in Catalysis, 2010, Volume 53, p. 123. doi:10.1016/S0360-0564(10)53003-7
  2. ^ Emsley, John (1999). Molecules at an exhibition: portraits of intriguing materials in everyday life. Oxford University Press. p. 128. ISBN 0-19-286206-5. 
  3. ^ "Hall of Fame/inventor profile". National Inventors Hall of Fame. 2002. Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  4. ^ "The Discovery of Polypropylene and the Development of a New High-Density Polyethylene". American Chemical Society. Retrieved 1 February 2010. 

External links[edit]