FRASCH, HERMAN (25 Dec. 1851-1 May 1914), chemical engineer and inventor whose work proved valuable to the STANDARD OIL CO. (OHIO), was born in Gaildorf, State of Wurttemberg, Germany and apprenticed to a druggist before coming to Philadelphia in 1868, working at the College of Pharmacy before opening his own shop in 1873 to apply chemistry to industrial problems. In 1876 he developed a new process for refining paraffin wax from petroleum which he patented and sold to the Cleveland Petroleum Co., a subsidiary of Standard Oil. Impressed, Standard Oil officials offered Frasch a position in the research department in Cleveland, and Frasch moved there in 1877. Although working mostly with petroleum, Frasch also developed a new oil lamp, a process to produce white lead, and methods to manufacture salt and carbonate soda.
In 1885, Frasch purchased high-sulfur, low-quality crude oil fields near Ontario, Canada, establishing Empire Oil Co. He developed a process to desulfurize crude petroleum, receiving 21 U.S. patents. He sold his Ontario operations and patents to Standard Oil, enabling Standard Oil to produce high-quality refined oil from poor-quality crude supplies. In 1891, Frasch patented a process for mining sulfur, organizing the Union Sulfur Co. the following year. Frasch moved to Paris after retiring from business. His innovations were honored in 1912, when he received the Perkins Gold Medal in chemistry. While living in Philadelphia Frasch married Romalda Berks (d. 1889); they had two children, George and Frieda. In 1892 he married Elizabeth Blee of Cleveland.
Last Modified: 16 Jul 1997 03:23:23 PM
Sutton, William Ralph. "Herman Frasch" (Ph.D. diss., Louisiana State University, 1984).