Frederick Gardner Cottrell (1877-1948) is best
known to electrochemists for the “Cottrell Equation*”.
His primary source of fame is as the inventor of electrostatic precipitators
for removal of suspended particles from gases. These devices are
widely used for abatement of pollution by smoke from power plants
and dust from cement kilns and other industrial sources.
Cottrell was born in Oakland, California. He received
a B.S. in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley
in 1896 and Ph.D from the University of Leipzig in 1902. He was
an instructor of chemistry at the University of California, a chief
physical chemist of the U.S. Bureau of Mines, chairman of the division
of chemistry and chemical technology of the National Research Council,
and director of the Fixed Nitrogen Research Laboratory.
In 1912, he founded the Research Corporation.
This nonprofit foundation, for the advancement of science, secured
and developed over 750 patents.
Cottrell played a part in the development of a
process for separation of helium from natural gas. He also had a
role in establishing the synthetic ammonia industry in the United
States during attempts to perfect a process for formation of nitric
oxide at high temperatures.
*F.G.Cottrell, Z.Physik Chem, (1902) 42,385