|Died||1978 (aged 87–88)|
Robert Durrer (1890–1978) was a Swiss engineer who developed the basic oxygen steelmaking process (the Linz-Donawitz process, named after the towns where the technology was commercialized). The process was successfully tested by Durrer in 1948. A team led by Dr Theodor Eduard Suess in Austria adapted the process and scaled it to industrial size, and it was commercialized by VÖEST and ÖAMG.
Durrer graduated from the Aachen University in 1915. He stayed in Germany and in 1928 accepted the chair of the Professor of Metallurgy at the Berlin Institute of Technology. From 1933 to 1939, during his time in Nazi Germany, Durrer supervised experiments on the new steel making technique. In 1943 Durrer returned from Nazi Germany to Switzerland and was appointed to the board of von Roll AG, the country's largest steelmaker. Durrer teamed up with Heinrich Heilbrugge and ran a series of experiments that established commercial viability of basic oxygen metallurgy. In 1947 Durrer ordered a small experimental converter from the United States, and on 1 April 1948 Durrer and Heilbrugge produced their first oxygen-blown steel.
In the summer of 1948 von Roll AG and two Austrian state-owned companies, VÖEST and ÖAMG, agreed to commercialize the Durrer process. Their commercial converter furnaces were put into operation in November 1952 (VÖEST in Linz) and May 1953 (ÖAMG, Donawitz) and temporarily became the leading edge of the world's steelmaking, causing a surge in steel-related research. Unlike Europe, whose industrial capacity had been decimated by World War II, America had a large base of steelmaking capacity, and it was economic to retain, rather than replace, its capital stock. U.S. Steel and Bethlehem Steel nonetheless introduced oxygen steelmaking in 1964; by 1969, its tonnage surpassed that manufactured using the Bessemer process. Japan became an early adopter and by 1970 produced 80% of its steel in Linz-Donawitz furnaces. Durrer's contribution to practical steelmaking was marked by the AIME Benjamin F. Fairless Award, 1966. etc.
Durrer was a Professor at ETH Zurich from 1943 to 1961. He edited and co-authored the multi-volume Metallurgie des Eisens (Metallurgy of Iron, or the "Gmelin-Durrer"). The annual Staudinger-Durrer Prize awarded by ETH Zurich commemorates Durrer along with Nobel Prize winner Hermann Staudinger.
- Smil, p. 97.
- Allen, James Albert (1967). Studies in Innovation in the Steel and Chemical Industries. Manchester University Press.
- Smil, pp. 97-98.
- Smil, p. 98.
- Brock and Elzinga, p. 39.
- Smil, p. 99.
- Blast furnace and steel plant, vol. 54, 1966, p. 91.
- AIST Benjamin F. Fairless Award (AIME). Association for Iron and Steel Technology. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
- Staudinger-Durrer Prize. ETH Zurich. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
- Smil, Vaclav (2006). Transforming the twentieth century: technical innovations and their consequences, Volume 2. Oxford University Press US. ISBN 0-19-516875-5.
- Brock, James W.; Elzinga, Kenneth G. (1991). Antitrust, the market, and the state: the contributions of Walter Adams. M. E. Sharpe. ISBN 0-87332-855-8.