Hoyt C. Hottel
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Hoyt C. Hottel begins the first interview with a description of his childhood and education in Indiana, Missouri, and later Illinois, where his father was a salesman in the rubber industry. He praises his early schooling and various teachers and subjects at Hyde Park High School. Hottel discusses his entry into Indiana University's chemistry program at age 15 and courses and professors there, before turning to graduate work in chemical engineering at MIT with Walter Whitman; and relationships with Tom Sherwood, Warren K. Lewis, and Robert T. Haslam. His experiences at MIT's chemical engineering practice school-including work at a Bethlehem Steel plant, Pennobscot Chemical Fire Company, Revere Sugar Company and Merrimack Chemical Company-led to work as assistant director at the steel plant and influenced later research directions. Hottel next describes his interest in radiation from gases in relation to industrial furnace design; his decision to pursue doctoral research on flame propagation in hydrogen oxygen mixtures; the reasons he postponed writing his dissertation; and subsequent appointments as fuel and gas engineering assistant professor, Fuels Research Laboratory acting director, and division of industrial cooperation assistant director. As a central part of this interview, Hottel details his experiences while advising US armed forces and national committees during WWII, including work on flamethrowers, incendiary bombs, smoke obscuration, napalm, and fire warfare. He closes the first interview with a discussion of his post-war career at MIT, work on turbine combustion and peacetime fire research at the Bureau of Standards. Hottel opens the second interview with a review of his early experiences as a graduate student and young professor at MIT; he comments on early research, interdepartmental relations, the development of the fuel and gas engineering program, consulting work for private industry, and supervision of graduate students and their research. He briefly discusses his research involving rocket combustion, gas turbines, and Project Meteor, before describing the details of MIT's solar energy research and opinions on solar energy in general. He touches on involvement with the International Flame Foundation before closing the interview with discussion of post-retirement activities, including teaching combustion and radiative transfer courses and co-authoring a book on new energy technology.
|1922||Indiana University Bloomington||AB||Chemistry|
|1924||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||SM||Chemical Engineering|
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
National Research Council
National Defense Research Committee
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
Armed Forces Special Weapons Project
American Flame Research Committee of the International Flame Foundation
National Bureau of Standards
National Academy of Engineering
National Academy of Sciences
United States Medal for Merit
King's Medal for Service in the Cause of Freedom, Great Britain
William H. Walker Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
Sir Alfred Egerton Gold Medal, The Combustion Institute
Melchett Medal, Institute of Fuel, Great Britain
Elected, National Academy of Sciences
Max Jakob Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers and American Society of Mechanical Engineering
Founders Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
Fellow, American Insitute of Chemical Engineers
Elected, National Academy of Engineering
Farrington Daniels Award, International Solar Energy Society
Esso Energy Award shared with Dr. H. Tabor, Royal Society (London)
Workshop Conference on Analytical Methods of Fire Safety for Buildings
Table of Contents
Influence of grade and high school teachers. Chemistry major at Indiana University. Interest in rubber chemistry.
Chemical engineering major at MIT. Master's thesis on rubber additives. Experiences at three stations of the School of Chemical Engineering Practice. Year as assistant to Bill Ryan at Buffalo station of Practice School. Doctor's thesis on combustion. Paper on heat transfer in furnaces. Paper on combustion and heat transfer with Robert T. Haslam.
Appointment as assistant professor in fuel and gas engineering at MIT. Acting director, Fuels Research Laboratory. Assistant director, division of industrial cooperation.
Work on flamethrowers, incendiary bombs and smoke obscuration during World War II. Fire Warfare section chief for National Defense Research Committee. Development of Napalm. Bomb testing on mock Japanese and German villages at Dugway Proving Grounds. Trip to England to exchange information on fire warfare.
Work on gas turbine combustion. Involvement in establishing Fire Center at the Bureau of Standards.
Review of experiences at the School of Chemical Engineering Practice. Early involvement in industrial furnace design. Interdepartmental relations at MIT. Development of fuel and gas engineering at MIT. Work on solution of exhaust-gas carbon monoxide problem for General Motors. Review of graduate students and theses.
Wartime research on rocket combustion and gas turbines. Involvement with Project Meteor and the Armed Forces Special Weapons project.
Solar energy research as chairman of solar energy committee. Construction of solar houses. Funding of solar energy project. Opinions on the viability of solar energy. Involvement in the International Flame Foundation.
Half-time courses in combustion and radiative transfer at MIT. Book on new energy technology with Jack Howard. Review of MIT colleagues.
About the Interviewer
James J. Bohning was professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he had been a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was CHF’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society. Bohning passed away in September 2011.