Page 607
Previous/Next Page
Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 9

I Introduction

II The Australian Chemical Industry
i Beginnings 1865-1919
ii Fertilisers
iii Raw materials from gasworks and coke ovens
iv The beginnings of industrial chemical research - in the sugar industry
v Explosives

III Pharmaceuticals

IV Chemists In Other Industries

V The Dawn Of Modern Chemical Industry - High Pressure Synthesis

VI The Growth Of Synthetic Chemicals - Concentration, Rationalisation And International Links

VII Australian Industrial Chemical Research Laboratories

VIII The Plastics Industry

IX The Paint Industry

X Acknowledgements



Contact us

The beginnings of industrial chemical research - in the sugar industry

The earliest chapter in industrial research in chemistry belongs not to the chemical but to the sugar industry. Almost half a century before the foundation of Australia's premier research organisation, the CSIRO, CSR (then the Colonial Sugar Refineries) employed the first research chemists.

The value of chemical analysis was clearly recognised by CSR's General Manager E. W. Knox and Sir Daniel Cooper,[21] one of its directors; it led them to employ around 1873 a Scottish chemist, Thomas Utrick Walton, and later, 1883, a German scientist, Dr. Gustav Kottman. Both men were to have a major impact on research in CSR, setting up laboratories and field stations and imposing upon them the disciplines and control methodology which are still evident in today's practice. Walton in particular laid down chemical process control which ensured that residual sugar in various residues, particularly bagasse, was recovered. Kottman improved crushing efficiencies further and developed the formulae by which extraction efficiencies are measured to this day. His most important contribution, however, was probably in field work, improving strains of sugar and nutritional value.

Chemistry and chemical engineering remained integral skills of CSR's sugar production, which is dealt with elsewhere in this book. Sugar by-products, however, also were to take CSR on into the heartland of the chemical industry and even the energy industry. Sugar by-products in later years led to a diversification of the company into production of ethyl alcohol, its derivatives, some pharmaceuticals, and ultimately to the joint development of a modern petrochemical factory at Rhodes, NSW, with the Distillers Co. Ltd. of the UK (1952) and ICI Australia Ltd. (1968).

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Colonial Sugar Refining Company (C.S.R.)

People in Bright Sparcs - Cooper, Sir Daniel; Knox, E. W.; Kottmann, Dr G.; Walton, T. U.

Previous Page Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering Next Page

© 1988 Print Edition page 638, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher