A history of the international chemical industry by Fred Aftalion

By Fred Aftalion

Goals to supply a world point of view on chemistry, integrating the tale of chemical technology with that of the chemical undefined, and emphasizing very important advancements of the twentieth century.

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Our desire is not to be partisan, but to be serious and balanced. The Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry is committed to helping bring into being a deeper, more reflective analysis of the chemical sciences. We trust The Chemical Sciences in Society will assist toward this end. ARNOLD THACKRAY Page xvii Preface: the Chemical Revolution(s) Although it may be comforting to view our lives as if they were the result of some long sweep of gradual, evolutionary change, starting from a mythical "good old days," it has been revolution rather than evolution that has set the pace.

Mercury, which with sulfur was Page 4 one of the two basic principles of alchemy, had been used for a long time because of its easy production from its ores and its ability to create amalgams for extracting metals from other ores. In the long run, repeated failures to achieve transmutation, coupled with the occult nature of many alchemical texts, caused an unfavorable impression to settle in the minds of the less credulous regarding the validity of alchemical theories. The lasting contributions of alchemy came through the development of manipulatory techniques and later, during the Renaissance in the sixteenth century, through a focus on the medical field.

Courtesy Rohm and Haas. 150 26. Wallace Carothers. Courtesy E. I. du Pont de Nemours. 156 27. Eugène Houdry. 158 28. Catalytic cracking unit, Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, 1938. 159 29. ICI polyethylene pilot plant units, Wallerscot, Cheshire, 1937 273 30. Rhône-Poulenc synthetics plant, Saint-Fons. -DCNB. 284 31. Total Chimie complex, Gonfreville near Le Havre. Courtesy Total Chimie. 295 32. Tavaux factory. Courtesy Solvay. 298 Page xv Foreword The Chemical Sciences in Society: what may one expect in a series with such a title?

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