OTTO RÖHM, CHEMIST AND ENTREPRENEUR
Co-founder and long-term co-owner and Director of Röhm & Haas whose facilities in Darmstadt, Worms and Weiterstadt are important sites of Evonik Industries.
* 1876, Öhringen/Württemberg
† 1939, Berlin
Originally trained as a pharmacy assistant, Otto Röhm first studied pharmacy at the universities of Munich and Tübingen. As a certified pharmacist, he studied chemistry in Tübingen, which he successfully completed in 1901 with a dissertation on "Polymerization Products of Acrylic Acid". This was followed by work at the pharmaceutical company Merck and as a chemist at the Stuttgart gasworks, where Otto Röhm devoted himself for the first time to the processing of animal skins, which he treated with gas water. His research led to an enzymatic leather stain, for which there was great demand in the leather industry. In 1907, together with the businessman Otto Haas, he founded the company Röhm & Haas in Esslingen, which soon launched the new product OROPON® on the market with great success. Just two years later, the young company moved to Darmstadt, where a larger plant was built near the leather factories in the Rhine-Main area.
Otto Röhm was the first chemist to isolate enzymes and use them technically. In doing so, he not only revolutionized the traditional process of using dog excrement in the leather industry, but also laundry washing from 1914 onwards. In 1920, Otto Röhm introduced enzymes in the pharmaceutical industry and in 1934 in the food industry.
Röhm also became a pioneer in the field of plastics. He developed a large number of acrylate and methacrylate compounds. The most successful invention was PLEXIGLAS® in 1933. At the 1937 Paris World's Fair, it won the Grand Prix and a gold medal.
Otto Röhm always strived to use his chemical products in a variety of ways, and so granules for molded parts, preparations for dental prostheses and products for the paint and textile industry were developed during his lifetime. From the 1950s onwards, the chemical basis he developed enabled Röhm & Haas to build up an extensive product range for a wide range of applications.
Röhm became an honorary citizen of the TH Darmstadt in 1922. He is named as inventor or co-inventor in over 70 patents. When he died in 1939, the company employed 1,800 people and had a turnover of 22 million Reichsmarks. Streets in Darmstadt, Weiterstadt and Worms as well as in his birthplace Öhringen bear his name.