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Honeywell UOP scientist honoured with technology award by US president Obama

21st November 2014

UOP, a Honeywell company, has had one of its leading scientists presented with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by US president Barack Obama - prolific inventor created technologies used globally for cleaner-burning fuels and environmental remediation

Honeywell UOP scientist honoured with technology award by US president Obama
UOP, a leader in developing advanced technologies for the global oil and gas industry, also received the award in 2003

Edith M. Flanigen, a chemist at UOP, was one of eight recipients of the award, which recognises people and organisations that have made lasting contributions to America’s competitiveness and quality of life and strengthened the nation’s technological workforce.

UOP, a leader in developing advanced technologies for the global oil and gas industry, also received the award in 2003.

“These scholars and innovators have expanded our understanding of the world, made invaluable contributions to their fields, and helped improve countless lives,” said president Obama.

“Our nation has been enriched by their achievements, and by all the scientists and technologists across America dedicated to discovery, inquiry, and invention.”

Dr. Rajeev Gautam, president and CEO of UOP, said: “Edie’s work has benefited humanity through cleaner and safer fuels, improved refining methods and environmentally sound biodegradable detergents, among dozens of other notable inventions. We could not be more proud of Edie for this recognition of her lifelong record of contributions to chemical science.”

Flanigen began her career at Union Carbide in 1952 ‒ at a time when there were few women in chemistry ‒ working on the purification and extraction of silicone polymers. Four years later, she began her work on synthetically manufactured molecular sieves, more commonly known as zeolites. Zeolites are porous crystals capable of separating and purifying complex chemical mixtures and enhancing chemical reactions for oil refining and petrochemical manufacture.

Flanigen’s work with zeolites led to advancements in water purification and environmental remediation. She also invented a process to synthetically manufacture gem-quality emeralds for use in early laser technology and which were subsequently sold in a line of jewelry.

In 1973, Flanigen became the first woman at Union Carbide to be named Corporate Research Fellow, and in 1982, Senior Corporate Research Fellow. She joined UOP in Des Plaines, Ill., following the merger of a Union Carbide division with UOP in 1988. During her 42-year career, she invented more than 200 different synthetic materials, authored more than three dozen publications, and earned 109 patents. She retired in 1994, and has remained active with UOP as a consultant since that time.

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