On This Day in Oil & Gas: December 6th - Charles Martin Hall

December 6th 1863, Thompson, Ohio, The United States of America – As the American Civil War rages, a son is born to parents just returned from missionary work in Jamaica. The youngest of five siblings, by the age of six he would be quoting from his father's college chemistry book and by his early teens he would regularly appropriate the family kitchen and woodshed for his experiments. At 16 Charles Martin Hall would enrol at Oberlin College, the first American institution of higher learning to regularly admit female and black students, and begin an academic career that would see him teach across the post-bellum United States and as far away as G÷ttingen in Germany and Tokyo in Imperial Japan.

History would remember him for one outstanding achievement: the discovery in 1886 of the electrolytic method of producing aluminium, barely eight months after he graduated from college. The Hall – Hêroult process would make the production of aluminium 200 times less expensive, reducing the price to 18 cents a pound by 1914 , mak ing it the first metal to attain widespread use since the advent of iron. What has this got to do with oil and gas? Well aside from being ideally suited to manufacture tubulars for drilling challenging slant and horizontal wells, the aluminium industry is one of the largest consumers of natural gas. So, put that in your blast furnace and smelt it!



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