DuPont researchers receive award for improving chemical safety

May 29, 2003

A team of researchers at DuPont corporate headquarters, based in Wilmington, Del., will be honored June 9 by the world's largest scientific society for designing a manufacturing process that eliminates the need to transport and store the hazardous chemical methyl isocyanate. They will receive a 2003 Industrial Innovation Award at the American Chemical Society's Middle Atlantic regional meeting in Princeton, N.J.

In 1984, a chemical facility in Bhopal, India, accidentally released the hazardous chemical methyl isocyanate into the community. Although not a DuPont facility, the accident prompted DuPont chemists and engineers to began looking for ways to minimize the storage, transport and handling of the chemical, which DuPont uses as an intermediate in the manufacture of the insecticide methomyl.

DuPont scientists quickly developed a new way to make its own methyl isocyanate on site and use it immediately. Implementing the improvements required the design and construction of new production facilities at DuPont's LaPorte, Texas, plant to accommodate the new process, conversion of facilities at the company's West Virginia plant to manufacture the starting material, and the approval of community and regulatory agencies. The plant began operating less than six months after the Bhopal accident. The approach has changed the way DuPont handles many hazardous chemicals and reduced thousands of pounds of hazardous material handled at its plants.

The American Chemical Society's Industrial Innovation Awards recognize individuals and teams whose discoveries and inventions contribute to the commercial success of their companies and enhance our quality of life.

The members of the research team receiving the award are:

Charles Blaisdell, Ph.D., a senior engineering associate at DuPont. He received a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Iowa in 1972. He resides in Odessa, Del.

John Carberry, director of environmental technology at DuPont. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in chemical engineering from Cornell University in 1964 and an M.B.A. from the University of Delaware in 1974. He resides in Newark, Del.

Lawrence Haight, an engineering associate at DuPont. He received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Auburn University in 1973. He resides in Mobile, Ala.

George Heinshohon, Ph.D., now retired from DuPont. He received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from New York Polytechnic in 1962 and a doctorate in chemistry from Cornell University in 1974. He resides in Elkton, Md.

Malli Rao, Ph.D., Distinguished Scientist at DuPont. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in chemistry from the University of Madras, India, in 1960 and a doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of Idaho in 1966. He resides in Wilmington, Del.

Terence A. Rensi, a senior engineering associate at DuPont. He received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Dayton in 1973 and a master's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware in 1979. He resides in Hockessin, Del.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The winners will give a 20-minute presentation about their work on Monday, June 9, at 11 a.m. If you would like to attend the awards banquet or presentation, please contact the person listed above.

American Chemical Society

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