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















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