Development of Raney nickel catalyst earns Historic Chemical Landmark designation

06 Apr 2022

 

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2022 — The American Chemical Society (ACS) will honor the development of Raney® nickel with a National Historic Chemical Landmark designation in a ceremony at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on April 7, 2022.

Murray Raney (1885-1966) invented the catalyst now known as Raney nickel in 1926 while working out of his home laboratory near Chattanooga, Tennessee. Raney didn’t attend high school, but after working for a few years, he realized he wanted more education and enrolled at the University of Kentucky. He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering.

Originally, Raney nickel was used to turn liquid vegetable oils into solid shortening, but by 1950 it had become one of the most widely utilized catalysts in the world. Today, Raney nickel produced by W. R. Grace & Co. is used to convert building-block chemicals into pharmaceuticals, food ingredients, agrochemicals, personal care products, fibers, fragrances and many other products that are an integral part of modern daily life.

ACS established the National Historic Chemical Landmarks program in 1992 to recognize seminal events in the history of chemistry and to increase awareness of the contributions of chemistry to society. Past landmarks include the discovery and production of penicillin, the invention of synthetic plastics and the works of such notable scientific figures as educator George Washington Carver and environmentalist Rachel Carson.

 

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