Paul Baumann, Chemist and entrepreneur


First production manager and executive director of Chemische Werke Hüls after 1945.


Hüls

* 1897, Pforzheim

† 1976, ebd.

After returning from the War in 1918, Paul Baumann initially began to study chemistry, but soon changed direction and ended up studying physics in Heidelberg. In his dissertation he discussed the behavior of electric rays in gases ("Diffusion of slow cathode rays in gases") and gained his doctorate in 1923 summa cum laude. On September 1, 1923 Baumann took up employment at BASF AG's Oppau works and was appointed works manager in the primary materials plant in 1925. In the same year BASF established I.G. Farbenindustrie AG in partnership with other chemical companies. From 1928 Baumann headed an experimental plant producing acetylene from hydrocarbon using the arcing process, which had already been described in the 1860s by Berthelot.

After I.G. Farbenindustrie signed a cooperation agreement in 1929 with Standard Oil of New Jersey concerning the hydration of coal and heavy oils, Paul Baumann was commissioned by I.G. Farbenindustrie in 1930 under this project to progress the commercial production of acetylene as a raw material for the artificial rubber buna using the arcing method. As a result he worked in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA from 1930 to 1935. After this successful preparatory work, an arcing plant was built in Leuna in 1935 under Baumann's management.

The high point of Paul Baumann's career was on August 9, 1938, when he took over management of the production plants at Chemische Werke Hüls GmbH (ChWH) in Marl manufacturing buna and ethylene oxide derivatives. This is now Evonik Industries' Marl Chemical Park. Under his management Buna production started in 1940 despite extremely difficult circumstances, and was sustained at a high level over a long period.

In May 1945 it was largely thanks to Paul Baumann's personal intervention that the factory was not destroyed. Only a few weeks after the end of the War he succeeded in getting production going again. He was appointed acting executive director by the military government. Under Baumann's management, the works were largely reestablished and flourished once again for the next 16 years. They were given a new product base, starting production in the post-war era of detergent base materials, polyvinyl chloride and solvents.

In 1953 Baumann took over as president of Chemische Werke Hüls, which had now changed from a GmbH (limited company) to an AG (joint stock company). New products included polyethylene and polypropylene based on the Ziegler process. Work had already started on developing a sales organization and application technology department in the immediate post-war period. International contacts were forged, both through sales companies and subsidiaries.

Paul Baumann was honored by numerous institutions. In 1950 he was appointed honorary professor by the Westphalia Wilhelms University in Münster and honorary senator in 1963. In 1959 he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic and in 1960 the Carl Dietrich Harries plaque for his services to buna and perbuna N production. In 1983 a section of road at the south gate of the former Hüls AG was renamed "Paul Baumann-Straße“ by decision of the Council. It still bears this name today.

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