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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 9

I Introduction

II The Australian Chemical Industry

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



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Chemists In Other Industries

Chemistry and chemical engineering as sciences and professions extend beyond the chemical industry into most modern technologies -food, metals, textiles and general manufacturing -and the names of distinguished chemists will, no doubt, emerge in many chapters of this volume. There are, however, a few chemists who have influenced Australian technical and economic developments of such importance that they merit recording in an account of chemical technology simply as members of the profession, even though their practical contributions belong into other fields of technology.

Charles Rasp, the German boundary rider who discovered the Broken Hill ore, in his earlier career in Hamburg had worked as a chemist; Geoffrey Blainey in his Rise of Broken Hill[72] hints that his training must have helped him to recognize outcrops which others before him missed. He stood at the beginnings of Australia's biggest industrial enterprise Broken Hill Proprietary Ltd., BHP.

Three practical men, Charles Vincent Potter, G. D. Delprat and Auguste de Bavay are generally given credit for the main inventive steps in what is probably Australia's greatest contribution to world technology, the Broken Hill flotation process. It may be a little far-fetched to claim two brewers. Potter and de Bavay, as industrial chemists. But de Bavay is generally described as such and all three men probably owed as much to their training in physics and chemistry as to practical empiricism. Considerably later two distinguished research and industrial chemists. Sir lan Wark, originally of Electrolytic Zinc and later Chief of the CSIRO Division of Industrial Chemistry and Dr. Keith L. Sutherland, of the CSIRO and later C.S.R., laid the foundation to the understanding of the process. They provided much of the record from which the scientific world knows the process. The case history (see e.g. G. Blainey,[73] above cited, for a popular account) is an interesting local example of the interaction between inventors, plant operators and scientists, and of the historical sequence and real workings of industrial progress.

People in Bright Sparcs - de Bavay, Auguste; Delprat, G. D.; Potter, Charles Vincent; Rasp, Charles; Sutherland, Dr Keith L.; Wark, Sir Ian W.

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