Born Apr 18 1892 - Died Jul 18 1962
Process for the Manufacture of Liquid Fuels
Patent Number(s) 1,837,963
Eugene Houdry discovered a revolutionary method for cracking low-grade crude oil into high-test gasoline, developed a catalytic process for producing synthetic rubber in World War II, and invented the catalytic converter for cleaning automobile exhaust.
After the war Houdry expanded on his work that had yielded a catalytic process for producing gasoline from coal and invented a method for catalytically cracking low-grade crude oil.
In 1930 Houdry moved to the United States, where Vacuum Oil and the Sun Oil Company provided significant financial backing for his work and his own Houdry Process Corporation. When World War II broke out in 1939 he returned briefly to his native country to help the French government adapt his catalytic cracking process to the production of high-octane aviation gasoline.
The process revolutionized the production of gasoline and enabled refining companies to produce twice as much high-quality fuel per barrel of oil than the previous distillation method. By 1942, 90 percent of the aviation fuel produced in France, Great Britain, and the United States was catalytically cracked.
Born in Domont, France, the son of a wealthy structural steel manufacturer, Houdry studied mechanical engineering at the Ecole des Arts et Metiers in Paris. He worked first in his father's business then left to serve in the French Army as a lieutenant in the tank corps in World War I, where he was seriously injured. Houdry contributed to the WWII effort by developing a single-step butane dehydrogenation process for producing synthetic rubber.
After the war Houdry formed a new company called Oxy-Catalyst and turned his attention to reducing the health risks from increasing amount of automobile and industrial exhausts. His catalytic muffler, patented in 1962, greatly reduced the amount of carbon dioxide and unburned hydrocarbons. Today, the device is standard on all American cars.
Houdry received more than 100 patents.