National Geographic : 1945 Jun
ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT factors in the Government's rubber program is the production of GR-S type synthetic rubber. The basic chemical in this rubber is Butadiene, which can be made from alcohol or hydrocarbon ma terials. The Government's original plan provided that about one third of the required Butadiene would be made by CARBIDE AND CARBON CHEMICALS CORPORA TION'S alcohol process. In 1943, their first year of operation, however, the plants using this process produced over 75 per cent of all Butadiene made for GR-S type synthetic rubber. In 1944, the second year, these plants produced about 64 per cent of all Butadiene necessary for mili tary and essential civilian rubber. This was true de spite the fact that good progress had been made in the production of Butadiene by other processes. THE RECORD The first tank-car load of Butadiene was shipped from the Government's Carbide-built, Carbide-operated plant at Institute, West Virginia a little over two years ago. This was just five months after the famous Baruch Committee Report pointed out this nation's desperate need for rubber-and approved Carbide's butadiene alcohol process, originally selected by Rubber Reserve Company, as one of the solutions. In its first year the Institute plant, with a rated ca- SEPTEMBER 10, 1942 "Of all the critical and strategic materials, rubber is the one which presents the great est threat to the safety of our nation, and to the Allied Cause ... We find the situa tion to be so dangerous that unless cor rective measures are taken immediately the country will face both a military and a civilian collapse." -Report of the Rubber Survey Committee (Baruch Committee). pacity of 80,000 tons per year, produced enough Buta diene for more than 90,000 long tons of synthetic rubber. Two more great plants using Carbide's alcohol proc ess-and built from the blueprints of the Institute plant-are in full production. One of these, with an annual rated capacity of 80,000 tons of Butadiene is located at Kobuta, Pennsylvania and is operated for the Government by another important chemical company. The second, with a rated capacity of 60,000 tons a year, is operated for the Government by Carbide at Louisville, Kentucky-making the total rated capacity of the two huge plants now operated by Carbide 140,000 tons a year. In 1944, the production of Butadiene from the three plants using the alcohol process totaled 361,000 tons representing operation at over 164 per cent of rated capacity. An even higher rate is expected in 1945. * * * * * Before Pearl Harbor, the United States was a "have not" nation with respect to rubber. Now, thanks to American research, engineering and production skill, our country can take its place as a dominant factor among the great rub ber producing nations of the world. V Business men, technicians,teachers,and others are invitedto send for the book E-6 "Butadiene and Styrene for Buna S Synthetic Rubberfrom GrainAlcohol," which explains what these plantsdo, and what their place is in the Government's rubber program. AUGUST 31, 1944 "Undoubtedly the outstanding achievement of your company has been the development of your process for the production of Butadiene from alcohol. With a rather meager background of experimental work, your engineers were able to design and construct commercial units for the production of Butadiene. In an exceedingly short time, the operation of this equipment at capacities up to 200 per cent of rating has been largely responsible for our present safe situation with respect to rubber supplies ... " - Letter from Rubber DirectorBradley Dewey to CARBIDE AND CARBON CHEMICALS CORPORATION The materialhereinhas been reviewedandpassedby the RubberReserve Company,the Defense PlantCorporation,andthe War Department.