Paul S. Greer

Born: November 28, 1904 | Braddock, PA, US
Died: June 11, 2006 | Chapel Hill, NC, US

Greer studied chemistry at the small Grove City College, but with one year at Carnegie Institute of Technology, and then continued further studies in chemical engineering at Case. The years up to the outbreak of World War II were spent with Union Carbide, working on the early development of petrochemicals. Greer then moved to Washington, DC, to join the War Production Board, but soon after transferred to the Office of the Rubber Director where he played an important role in process development and product quality of the butadiene-styrene rubber, GR-S.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0021
No. of pages: 51
Minutes: 207

Interview Sessions

Peter J T Morris
13 November 1985
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Abstract of Interview

Paul Greer begins his interview with a short description of his upbringing in western Pennsylvania, where his father operated a successful business college. Greer studied chemistry at the small Grove City College, but with one year at Carnegie Institute of Technology, and then continued further studies in chemical engineering at Case. The years up to the outbreak of World War II were spent with Union Carbide, working on the early development of petrochemicals. Greer then moved to Washington, DC, to join the War Production Board, but soon after transferred to the Office of the Rubber Director where he played an important role in process development and product quality of the butadiene-styrene rubber, GR-S. During this section of the interview technical details of the wartime program are discussed and the contributions of individuals assessed. Greer stayed in Washington after the war, eventually becoming head of research and development for the Office of Synthetic Rubber. He elaborates on the balance between natural and synthetic rubber and the effect of the Korean War. The roles of cold rubber, oil- extended rubber and masterbatch rubber are explained as well as the patent actions with General Tire & Rubber Company. Greer reviews the lessons of the government rubber program and mentions the important individual and corporate contributions. After the wind-down of the government program, Greer joined the US Army Research Office and he describes his functions during this final stage of his working life.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1925 Grove City College BS Chemistry
1927 Case Institute of Technology BS Chemical Engineering
1932 Case Institute of Technology ChE

Professional Experience

Carbide and Carbon Chemical Corporation

1927 to 1942
Chemical Engineer

War Production Board

1942 to 1943
Senior Industrial Specialist

Reconstruction Finance Corporation

1943 to 1950
Chief, Polymer Development Branch, Office of Synthetic Rubber
1950 to 1955
Chief, Research and Development Division, Office of Synthetic Rubber

National Science Foundation

1955 to 1957
Engineer

US Army

1957 to 1974
Physical Science Administrator, U.S. Army Research Office

Table of Contents

Childhood and Education
1

Family background, father's business college. School at Braddock, Pennsylvania. Chemistry studies at Grove City College, sophomore year at Carnegie. Chemical engineering at Case. Faculty at Grove City and Case, colleagues.

Employment at Union Carbide
6

Laboratories at Charleston, West Virginia; organization and assignments. Early years of organic chemical engineering. Product development of commodity chemicals.

Wartime Government Service
12

War Production Board and transfer to the Office of the Rubber Director. Duties and colleagues. Process development and product quality of GR-S. Details of wartime research and development programs, individual contributions. Cold rubber.

Postwar experience; Office of Synthetic Rubber
20

Postwar concerns about natural versus synthetic rubbers. Chief of Research and Development, effect of Korean War. Details of cold rubber development, gel content, chain regularity. Conversion of production capacity to cold rubber. Oil-extended rubber. Disputes with General Tire & Rubber Company, testifying in patent actions. Masterbatch rubber. Stereoregular rubbers. Wind-down of government rubber program. Major players in the enterprise, lessons of the program and analogies to synfuel proposals.

U. S. Army research Office
42

Duties at Army Research office. Relations with universities, anti-war sentiments. Retirement.

Notes
47
Index
48

About the Interviewer

Peter J T Morris

Peter J. T. Morris is currently at the Department of the History of Science and Technology of the Open University, where he is Royal Society-British Academy Research Fellow. Morris was educated at Oxford University receiving his BA, chemistry in 1978; DPhil, modern history in 1983, and he was a research fellow at the Open University from 1982 to 1984. During the period 1985–1987, Peter Morris was Assistant Director for Special Projects at the Beckman Center. He was the Royal Society–British Academy Research Fellow at the Open University, Milton Keynes, between 1987 and 1991, and Edelstein International Fellow in 1991–92. He is author of the monographs, Archives of the British Chemical Industry, 1800–1914 and Polymer Pioneers; his volume The American Synthetic Rubber Research Program was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in December 1989. Morris also co-edited Milestones in 150 Years of the Chemical Industry in 1991 and The Development of Plastics in 1994.