Carleton Ellis

Carleton Ellis

American inventor
Date of Birth: 20.09.1876
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Carlton Ellis
  2. Contributions to Technology
  3. The Invention of Margarine
  4. Recognition and Legacy

Biography of Carlton Ellis

Carlton Ellis was an American inventor and one of the founders of organic chemistry. Although not widely known, he made several important discoveries in his time. He either invented or significantly improved margarine, polyester, impact-resistant gasoline, paint, lacquer solvent, and many other materials. Ellis was born in Keene, New Hampshire and received his education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After graduating, he founded his own research company in Montclair, New Jersey.

Carleton Ellis

Contributions to Technology

Ellis focused on the development of existing technologies and achieved impressive results. His oil cracking process was actively used in the petroleum industry, particularly by the renowned Standard Oil company. He also found a way to produce inexpensive acetone, which greatly facilitated the protection of airplane wings from fire during World War I. Ellis developed a new gasoline formula that reduced engine detonation, and his new paint, polyester, and plastics had increased strength. He introduced the world to new printing ink, a scheme for flameless combustion, a hydroponic approach to plant cultivation without soil, and a healthier and more nutritious version of margarine.

The Invention of Margarine

Margarine substitutes had been developed before, as even Emperor Napoleon III had commissioned the creation of a cheap animal fat substitute. However, the early versions of margarine had numerous drawbacks, such as a high percentage of lard and difficulty in digestion. Ellis found a way to make margarine from vegetable oils, which revolutionized the industry and created a billion-dollar market. Interestingly, another invention that transformed the margarine industry was purely decorative - manufacturers started coloring their product in a more appealing yellow shade.

Recognition and Legacy

Ellis authored the work "The Hydrogenation of Oils," published in the Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry, as well as a book with the same title in 1920. In 1916, he received the Edward Longstreth Medal. Ellis obtained the first American patent for unsaturated polyester in 1933 and, shortly before his death, a patent for polyester copolymers.

Carlton Ellis passed away on January 13, 1941, at the age of 64, from influenza while on vacation in Miami Beach. His contributions continued to have a lasting impact long after his death. According to estimates by "Time" magazine, Ellis's developments are currently used in over 100,000 different materials. The article also states that Carlton Ellis transformed the field of plastics into a precise, concrete, and highly profitable area of scientific knowledge and industry. In honor of his achievements, an American merchant fleet tanker was named "S.S. Carleton Ellis" during World War II.