The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Frasch, Herman

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FRASCH, fräsh, Herman, American chemist and inventor: b. Gaildorf, Wurttemberg, Germany, 1852; d. 1914. He began the practice of pharmacy in 1868, and after his arrival in the United States entered the laboratory of Professor Maisch at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. In 1874 he established his own laboratory. Many of his earlier inventions were connected with the production of oil, salt, wax and white lead. In 1885 he entered the petroleum refining business on his own account in London, Ontario; here he devoted himself so successfully to the refining and purification of Canadian oils that his product, the highest grade of pure oil, became a serious competitor to Pennsylvania oil. The patents and works were purchased in 1888 by the Standard Oil Company and the processes were put into practice at the various plants of this company throughout the United States. Further patents for the treatment of petroleum and petroleum products were issued to Mr. Frasch.

In 1890 he took a patent on an apparatus that is regarded as an epoch-making improvement in the sulphur industry. He erected a plant at the deposits of native sulphur in Louisiana and by sending down superheated water through a boring of 1,000 feet he melted the sulphur, which then ascended to the surface through an inner tube in the boring. The melted sulphur is then pumped into bins several feet high, in which it solidifies, and the blocks are later broken up and loaded directly on cars. The result of this invention has been a reduction of the importation of sulphur into the United States to less than one-tenth of its former proportions, and a corresponding increase in home production. Frasch was awarded the Perkin medal in 1912.