The educational project “Personalities of the Russian Community Abroad. 1920-1945”

Vladimir Ipatieff

21.04.2020
Vladimir Ipatieff

Vladimir Ipatieff

(1867 – 1952)

A chemist and creator of high-octane gasoline and a new type of aviation fuel. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize multiple times.

Vladimir was born in 1867 into a noble family. He finished a military school and the Mikhail Artillery Academy in St. Petersburg. Soon after that, Ipatieff got in charge of a chemistry lab and then became a chemistry professor. In his job he was particularly interested in catalysis methods under high pressure and temperature. He invented a device that was later called “Ipatieff bomb” and was used as a prototype for new types of reactors and digesters, which are applied in the chemistry today.

During WWI he was already a General-Lieutenant and was in charge of the Chemical Committee under the Chief Directorate of Artillery. In 1916 Ipatieff was elected an academician of the Academy of Science.

Ipatieff did not accept the ideas of the October Revolution of 1917. But he agreed to cooperate with the Soviet authorities and in fact became the founder of the Soviet chemical industry. In 1930 he went abroad to get some treatment and stayed in the US for some time to deliver lectures. It was the time when he started his collaboration with Universal Oil Products and worked at a fine laboratory with cutting-edge equipment. Up until 1936 Ipatieff kept sending the results of his research to the USSR. But the Soviet authorities insisted on his return. Eventually, Ipatieff was stripped of his academic title and lost his Soviet citizenship. Therefore, the scientist remained in the United States forever.

Ipatieff’s contribution into the chemical science is immense. He researched catalysis methods under high temperature and pressure. His inventions related to production of high-octane gasoline and aviation fuel were of particular importance as they were successfully used during WWII and helped the allies aviation (who used high-octane gasoline) to fly faster than German aircrafts.

In 1937, in the US, Ipatieff was named “Man of the Year”. He was a member of the US National Academy of Sciences (1939). He was awarded the Lavoisier Medal, the highest award from the French Chemical Society (1939). He had the title of Honorable Doctor at Munich, Strasburg and Sofia Universities. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize multiple times. The laboratory called after his name is still functioning in the US.

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