Walter Bauer, Chemist

The basic research chemist

Röhm

* 1893 in Arnstadt/Thüringen

† 1968 in Darmstadt

Walter Bauer came from a family of businessmen and craftsmen. After attending a humanist grammar school, he studied Chemistry and Physics at the Universities of Jena and Munich between 1911 and 1917. That same year he was awarded his doctorate in Natural Sciences “magna cum laude” as a Liebig scholar in Jena. In 1918, he started work as a chemist for Röhm und Haas and managed the laboratory where research was conducted into the basic principles of acrylate chemistry. In 1938, Bauer was appointed director.

At the time of his appointment, research into acrylate chemistry at Röhm & Haas was still in its infancy. Bauer’s field of activity included both the synthesis of primary monomer products, particularly acrylic acid esters, and research into the products of their polymerization. The development of numerous important applications and significant technical manufacturing processes also came within his sphere of responsibility.

Among the most remarkable inventions and developments that he guided to success, as head of the laboratory, were the synthesis of acrylic acid methyl ester using ethylene cyanohydrin, the use of polymethyl acrylate to manufacture safety glass, an element of casting technology for PLEXIGLAS® sheets, the process for manufacturing PLEXIGLAS® pipes with centrifugal polymerization, the introduction of polymethyl acrylate in dental technology and the development of PLEXIDUR®. Hence, it could be said that Walter Bauer laid the foundations for many of Evonik Industries' successful products.

Up until his departure from the company in 1944, Bauer made a significant contribution to building up acrylate chemistry which, during WWII, became the most important business line at Röhm & Haas. He is named as inventor, or co-inventor, on almost 70 German and international patents. His efforts in basic research into the chemistry of plastics were honored by the German Association of Inventors with the Gold Diesel Medal in 1962. 

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