Adolph Frank, Chemist and entrepreneur

The universal chemist


Co-inventor of calcium cyanamide synthesis and one of the founders of the Cyanidgesellschaft, which founded Bayerische Stickstoffwerke AG, one of the predecessors of SKW Trostberg AG.


SKW

* 1834, Kloetze

† 1916, Berlin

After starting an apprenticeship as a druggist, Adolph Frank, who came from a merchant family, went to Berlin in 1854 to study pharmacy, chemistry and technology. After passing his final druggist examinations, Frank gained his chemical doctorate in Göttingen in 1861 with a dissertation on the production of sugar. Meanwhile he was already working at the Staßfurt beet sugar factory Bennecke, Hecher & Co., having filed many patents. From then on Frank worked on artificial fertilization, concentrating on the use of potassium salts in agriculture. In 1867 he took over the management of a glassworks in (Berlin-) Charlottenburg, but remained committed throughout his life to the development of the potassium industry in Germany.

After leaving the glass industry in 1885, Frank worked mainly in the acetylene industry. His growing involvement with calcium carbide in 1895 led to the Frank-Caro patent in partnership with Nikodem Caro. This work related to the bonding of nitrogen from the air with carbide in alkaline earths. The processes based on this patent formed the basis of the calcium cyanamide fertilizer industry. In partnership with Nikodem Caro, Dr. Fritz Rothe, Deutsche Bank, Siemens & Halske and the Deutsche Gold- und Silber-Scheideanstalt vormals Roessler in Frankfurt, Frank founded the Cyanidgesellschaft mbH in 1899. It subsequently founded Bayerische Stickstoff-Werke AG (BStW) in Trostberg, one of the predecessors of Süddeutsche Kalkstickstoffwerke, SKW for short, in 1939.

Adolph Frank, a man who in many respects could be described as a universal scientist, also worked with Carl von Linde on methods for obtaining hydrogen for airship travel, and for producing sulfuric acid and ammonia.