100-octane: The story behind the fuel by Peter Varey

By Peter Varey

A Pole, a Russian and an Frenchman have been the most important members to 100-octane gas. this can be the gas which powered the new high-compression engines of US fighter aircraft from 1937 and later the Merlin engines which helped the RAF's Spitfires and Hurricanes live to tell the tale the conflict of england in 1940. All 3 males labored within the usa within the Nineteen Thirties and their principles got here jointly to supply 100-octane gasoline.

Herman Pines, newly arrived from Poland through Lyon, France, came across work flat out to come back by means of until eventually he joined Universal Oil items in Chicago in 1930 as a short lived laboratory assistant, He made a key remark quickly afterwards. skilled Russian chemist Vladimir Ipatieff joined him, and the 2 labored on formerly unknown adjustments of petroleum to create very excessive octane (and very expensive) "alkylates". They confronted own in addition to technical demanding situations. Ipatieff used to be chased by way of Stalin's brokers to come back to the Soviet Union; Pines may possibly in basic terms watch, helpless, as his relations in Poland became trapped in ghettos and have been exterminated through the Nazis.

Houdry's demanding situations have been technical and fiscal. In France he had discovered a new strategy which produced, utilizing a catatyst, a gas of 80-octane in a unmarried step from petroleum. This used to be perfect for topping as much as 100-octane with Ipatieff and Pines's alkylates. searching for a backer to supply his development expenses, Houdry found one within the usa. With arrangements for warfare, the money for either Houdry's gasoline and Ipatieff and Pines' alkylates turned extra on hand and economies of scale observed costs drop. By 1940 the British govt had persuaded the american citizens to provide the RAF with 100-octane gasoline and for that reason Hurricanes and Spitfires have been in a position to hold off a technically-superior foe. Today the work of those 3 males nonetheless kinds the root of high-octane fuel at high-street pumps.

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