joined the faculty of the University of Illinois in 1891 as Professor
Applied Chemistry, a post he held until his retirement in 1926. In 1901
Parr established the curriculum of chemical engineering.
Parrs academic interest was the chemistry of coal and coal products.
He supplied the chemistry industry with practical instruments used to
analyze coal: the Parr Peroxide Calorimeter, the gas calorimeter, the
automatic recording gas calorimeter, and the sulfur photometer. He developed
a superior coking process after discovering that bituminous coal, after
being dried below coking temperatures, decomposes with an exothermic reaction
when heated to a higher temperature.
Parr worked extensively on alloys and discovered the nonferrous alloy
illium, which is of high tensile strength and ductibility and is highly
resistant to corrosion. Another research interest of his led to the solving
of the problem of the embrittlement of boiler steel. His work resulted
in vast savings for industry.
Parr founded the Standard Calorimeter Company in 1899 in Champaign, Illinois.
This company grew out of Parrs development of a simplified instrument
for measuring the heating value of coal. Parrs calorie meter, or
calorimeter, and other devices for testing fuel contributed to the development
of the extensive bituminous coal fields in Illinois at a time when conventional
wisdom held the only valuable coal in the United States came from eastern
fields. In 1911 the company moved its manufacturing facility to East Moline,
Illinois, and a few years later to Moline. In 1933 the company became
the Parr Instrument Company and it is still in operation.