The Wizard of OCTANE

Discussion in 'Technical' started by syscom3, Jun 4, 2008.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The Wizard of OCTANE

    EUGENE HOUDRY NEVER TRAINED AS A CHEMIST BUT HE MADE THE GREATEST ADVANCE IN THE HISTORY OF PETROLEUM CHEMISTRY
    BY TIM PALUCKA


    IF, AS THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE SAID, the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, then one can assert with equal justice that the Battle of Britain was won at the Stevens Hotel, in Chicago, on November 18, 1938. It was there, at the annual meeting of the American Petroleum Institute, that Arthur E. Pew, vice president and head of research of the Sun Oil Company, described his company’s extraordinary new catalytic refining process. Using it, he said, Sun was turning what was normally considered a waste product into gasoline—and not just ordinary gasoline, but a highoctane product that could fuel the era’s most advanced airplanes.

    That process would make a crucial difference in mid-1940, when the Royal Air Force started filling its Spitfires and Hurricanes with 100-octane gasoline imported from the United States instead of the 87 octane it had formerly used. Luftwaffe pilots couldn’t believe they were facing the same planes they had fought successfully over France a few months before. The planes were the same, but the fuel wasn’t. In his 1943 book The Amazing Petroleum Industry, V. A. Kalichevsky of the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company explained what high-octane gasoline meant to Britain: “It is an established fact that a difference of only 13 points in octane number made possible the defeat of the Luftwaffe by the R.A.F. in the fall of 1940. This difference, slight as it seems, is sufficient to give a plane the vital ‘edge’ in altitude, rate of climb and maneuverability that spells the difference between defeat and victory.” ...

    Read the rest of the story:

    AmericanHeritage.com / The Wizard of OCTANE
     
  2. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Interesting read, but I found one major inaccuracy:


    For a quick refrence, Gasoline - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

     
  3. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

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    a, Look at the date of the book.. 1943
    b, 100 octane fuel, when used, was an equalizer. When one looks on the specs finds the Spitfire being about similiar in performance to the 109E, the mainstay Hurricane still inferior.
    c, Appx. 1/4 of the RAF fighter squadrons used 100 octane during the Battle.
    d, The Germans were also using 100 octane fuel in the Battle, the difference being they produced it domestically, whereas the British imported it from overseas. The LW in 1940 used it primarly in 110s, and some 109E groups as well with similiar boost in performance.
     
  4. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Youre missing the point gentleman.

    His invention was the basis of modern high octane fuel production, for during the war and afterwards.

    The inaccuracies about who used what fuel when is irrelevant.

    What is relevant is the efficient process for which he invented, allowed the allies to make it in such quantities that it fueled a vast war machine, at levels the Germans could never hope to match with their synthetics.
     
  5. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    I know, that part was very interesting to read. As was the events and people involved and the technical bits.

    But the couple statements I mentioned, and Kfurst pointed out ate at me a bit...



    And I also don't think the 100 octane fuel was a deciding factor in the BoB, it helped, but the outcome would have been the same. (albeit with some heavier lossed for the Brits)


    Of course the big picture being true that the vast quantity (in addition to qualaty) of fuel, among other resoureses was pretty much the main deciding factor of the eventual outcome of the war, in addition to the virtually untouchable position of the US. (and even England's water barrier helped a great deal)
    Not to get into more specifics, or more off topic.


    Still a good read, despite the couple annoying points.

    And Kfurst, did you read the whole article?
     
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