Carl Theodor Kautter, Chemist and engineer

The Plant Engineer


* 1899, Heimsheim/Württemberg

† 1982, Darmstadt

Carl Theodor Kautter began studying chemistry during the First World War at Stuttgart Technical College, gaining his engineering doctorate in the minimum time possible. He then worked for a period as assistant to Prof. Gutbier at Jena University. In 1924 he moved abroad for several years, working among other things in Chile's niter industry and in apparatus engineering at the Gildemeister Company in Mexico. Of particular importance were his experiences in the petrochemical industry from 1929 onward, building plants to obtain hydrogen from natural gas in the USA.

In 1934 in New York, Carl Theodor Kautter met chemical entrepreneur Otto Röhm, who was looking for a chemist with technological experience to develop economical synthesis of methacrylates. Impressed by Kautter's abilities, Otto Röhm brought him to Darmstadt and appointed him works manager in 1935. Working closely together, Kautter and Röhm modernized the production of the starting products for the promising PLEXIGLAS®.

Carl Theodor Kautter also improved the polymerization process and was largely responsible for improved chemical-technological methods, on the basis of which the facility in Darmstadt was extended and new plants were built in Mittenwalde near Berlin and in Worms.

After the death of Otto Röhm in 1939, Kautter initially became assistant executive director, then full executive director of Röhm & Haas. His great achievements include the reconstruction of the destroyed Darmstadt and Worms facilities – today important sites of Evonik Industries – and construction of the first commercial plant for the production of hydrocyanic acid using the Andrusov method. By the time he retired in 1965, he had made a substantial contribution to the company's development.

Carl Theodor Kautter, an honorary doctor of Darmstadt Technical College since 1955, appeared in many patents as inventor and co-inventor and also made a name for himself through numerous publications and as a member of national and international institutions. He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his achievements.