The Sohio Acrylonitrile Process

The People
Six individuals played the most prominent roles in Sohio's acrylonitrile project.

Franklin Veatch was research supervisor for petro-chemicals, polymers, and new petroleum processes. He possessed a technical, creative genius, and he inspired co-workers to achieve a goal, however impossible it might seem. Veatch received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Arizona and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1947. He held 61 U.S. patents by the time of his retirement in 1978. He died in 1980.

James L. Callahan, a research associate, coordinated catalyst research and development, including the discovery of improved methods of catalyst manufacture. He was renowned for converting hydrocarbon materials to petrochemicals. Callahan received his B.S. degree from Baldwin-Wallace College and his M.S. degree and, in 1957, his Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University. Retired since 1985, he is credited with more than 200 patents and publications.

Ed MorrillEdward F. Morrill, as president of Vistron Corp., was the product-process champion on the business side. Vistron was the chemical division of Sohio from 1966 to 1982. Morrill received his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Case Institute of Technology in 1929. His ability to "see" a revolutionary and economically dominating chemical process was crucial to the project's success. Morrill took the necessary risks that led to successful commercialization.

James D. Idol, Jr., a research associate who supervised and carried out research and feasibility testing, holds the basic patent for the process. He received his B.A. degree in chemistry from William Jewell College and, in 1955, his Ph.D. in chemistry from Purdue University.

Ernest C. Milberger, a research associate, carried out the advancement of the Sohio process from small-scale research to pilot plant. He received his A.B. and M.A. degrees in chemistry from the University of Missouri and his Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in 1957. He holds 80 patents, mostly in the catalytic process area.

Gordon G. Cross, a development supervisor, was responsible for pilot plant development of the Sohio process, as well as for preliminary engineering and precommercial economic evaluation of the overall process concept. He received his B.S. degree in chemical engineering from Ohio State University and, in 1960, his M.S. degree in engineering administration from Case Institute of Technology.

Other significant contributors to the invention, development, and commercialization of the Sohio process include Arthur F. Miller, a research associate who developed the commercial method for manufacturing improved catalysts; Robert K. Grasselli, a catalyst research associate who was involved in the early oxidation research, the development of subsequent generations of Sohio catalysts, and the detailed mechanisms of ammoxidation reactions; and Robert W. Foreman, a group leader during the early research phase and a co-inventor of the bismuth phosphomolybdate propylene-to-acrolein catalyst.

Art Miller 

Bob Grasselli 

Bob Foreman 


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