Self Obituary by Maurice R. Barusch drafted during the lifetime
Maurice R. Barusch was born in Yokohama, Japan, September 21, 1919, where his father was an importer-exporter. He was the son of Harry Barusch and Leona Radston Barusch. A member of a pioneer family, one great grandparent arrived just about the time of the discovery of gold in California, jumping ship because of it. Dr. Barusch attended the public schools of San Francisco graduating from U.S. Grant Elementary and Lowell High. He received his A.B., M.A. and Ph.D. (in organic chemistry), all from Stanford.
In July, 1943, he joined the research department of Standard Oil Company, which evolved into California Research and finally Chevron Research Corporation. Early in his career Dr. Barusch studied the vapor phase oxidation of hydrocarbons and initiated the company's comprehensive efforts in gasoline and Diesel fuel additive research. He designed equipment permitting the first cool flame stabilization in a straight tube, a valuable technique in the study of preflame combustion.
He was the inventor of several commercially important fuel additives, including the first use of detergents in gasolines and Diesel fuels. Under his patents, Chevron initiated the use of carburetor cleaning agents in 1954, exploiting it as the "World's First Detergent Action Gasoline." Subsequently he formulated new detergents to maintain the cleanliness of the entire intake system (F-310). The use of fuel detergents has become wide spread, now being required by law in gasolines, permitting engines to be maintained in top operating conditions during their lives. They are vital in the control of air pollution.
He was organizer and chairman of the symposium: Additives in the Petroleum industry, American Chemical Society National Meeting, Detroit, April 1965. He authored the chapter, Engine Fuel Additives: Advances In Chemistry and Refining, Vol. X (J. J. Mcketta, Editor) and coauthored Chapter One, Additives, Engine Fuels Encyclopedia of Chemical Processing and Design (McKetta Editor).
In 1971, Dr. Barusch was the only industry representative to join distinguished academicians to present a series of seminars on Chemistry and Society at the California Institute of Technology. He lectured at a number of Universities including Gottingen, Germany (1964), California Institute of Technology (1971), Stanford University (1971), and University of Wisconsin (1975).
In 1977, he became the first Westerner to be awarded The Midgley Medal, presented annually for "Outstanding Contributions in the field of Chemistry Related to the Automotive Industries," by the Detroit Section - American Chemical Society.
He served two years as Trustee of the Richmond Elementary School District and was a Charter member of the Richmond Unified school Board, being President during its stormy days of attempting racial integration.
In 1999, he was elected Trustee of the California Section - American Chemical Society and chaired the Board from 2000 until 2006.
In 1942 he married Phyllis Roos, then a fellow student at Stanford University who served as a Research Associate at the Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California. They lived on the shore of San Francisco Bay at Point Richmond until her death in 2003. Their two sons, Lawrence and Ronald are alumni of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and both are practicing attorneys. There are five grandchildren: Margaret Camilla Dahlin (Harvard '06), Christopher Barusch Dahlin (Bates), Nathaniel Morris Barusch (Utah), Ariana Grace Barusch (Rowland Marx High, Salt Lake City), and Julia Rose Barusch Dahlin (Jefferson High, Alexandria, VA).
He was active in civic affairs and a member and president of one of California's larger districts during its attempts to integrate. He was proud of his lifelong efforts to remedy racial injustice and was an advocate of civil rights. He retired from Chevron Research as Vice-President in the fall of 1982 and since 2005 was a resident of Piedmont Gardens.
In 2005 he married Barbara H. Langlois, former mayor of Lafayette, a long time friend and widow of Gordon E. Langlois a close friend and colleague at Chevron and afterwards.
Musings of An Old Man
by Maurice R. Barusch
With life coming to a close, it is my intention to write down some of my thoughts. Possibly a few of my descendents, particularly my grandchildren, might at some time be interested. If not they can consign this paper to the ashcan. I hope to write up some of my technical achievements separately and append them.
My training as a scientist shaped my attitudes toward almost everything. In this respect, I think I differ quite markedly from most of my colleagues. I grant that more astute scientists than I, have been highly religious. Religion is something that must be taken on faith. This is the opposite of reason. Faith prohibits challenge. It appears to me that for a scientist to have faith requires logic tight compartments. The scientist is trained to challenge everything. He must be particularly skeptical of wishful thinking. This is why health tests must be conducted in double blind manner. A scientific attitude tends to produce a somewhat difficult person. It causes one to be dissident.
We live in a culture that is far from scientific. Our culture considers faith, prayer, belief in God, patriotism, tribalism, religion and the like to be virtues. In my opinion, such precepts have been the cause of great tragedies, the principle cause of violent deaths in our world. Further, it seems that it is logical to conclude that living by the golden rule is the most fulfilling and productive way. I find it amazing that we have a President who goes abroad and says we went into Iraq because God instructed him; a President who prays about our problems, rather than trying to consider all possible solutions; a president who advocates torture of prisoners. What kind of a nation have we become?
We are a warlike, violent nation. In my life we have fought numerous, and in my opinion, frivolous wars, including Vietnam, Korea, Panama, Granada, Cuba, and Iraq. With the trillions spent on armaments, think of the good we might have done for the world. I believe strongly that the way to a peaceful world lies in a more equitable distribution of wealth. In a modern society, I believe there is no excuse for extreme poverty. It becomes ever more apparent that the route to coping with over population is via enriching the impoverished.
In our society, it is clear that a politician, to be elected must be "strong on defense." This in a nation where our "Defense expenditures" exceed the total of the rest of the world. It is heresy not to support our boys, all of whom voluntarily joined a machine whose primary object is to kill. Is it not obvious the world would benefit from more young men not willing to kill other young men? Clearly, we are quite willing to murder not only the military, but innocent civilians including infants. How is this possible in a modern age?
The common beliefs in God, heaven, and hell support warlike attitudes. God is always on our side. "There are no atheists in the trenches". True believers can kill civilians and get their rewards in heaven. These beliefs amaze me in a modern world. Scientist knows that it takes energy to cause any occurrence. To a scientist, the concept of a soul existing without a source of energy must be challenged.
There is much other evidence of our country's violent nature. Our violent crime rate, including murder is excessive for a wealthy country. The number of citizens imprisoned and their long sentences are abnormally high. Much of the rest of the modern world eschews capital punishment.
Patriotism is generally considered a virtue. If this means waving the flag, shouting USA, or we're number one, I object. It should mean the effort to make our nation the best it can be. We should regard the making of war as evidence of abject failure. We do have glaring deficiencies. Our data on life expectancy, infant mortality, and public health are embarrassing for such a wealthy nation.
We do have a proud history. Certainly our forefathers were outstanding intellectuals, religious skeptics for their times, and surprisingly adept scientists. They gave us a Constitution, including a great Bill of Rights which has endured for more than 200 years. Could we enact such a great document as the Bill of Rights today?
I believe we can also be proud of our progress over the last few decades in race relations. We have a ways to go, but I have lived through enormous transitions. Through my adult life I have strongly supported equal rights, and though we are far short of the ideal, I think the progress made is amazing. I believe that it is obvious that we will overcame our prejudices against homosexuals, at least to the point of granting equal rights under the law.
In my lifetime, our nation has become by far the most powerful nation in the world. Unfortunately it has not realized its potential for making the world more secure and a happy place for all. Perhaps such a goal will always be unobtainable, but it seems we should do much better.
In my lifetime, several great men have emerged. Among the greatest are Mohandis Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, and Linus Pauling.
I attended the public schools of San Francisco, graduating from the eighth grade of the U. S. Grant Grammar School in 1932, from Lowell High School in 1936 and receiving my A. B. with distinction from Stanford in the spring of 1940 at the age of 20.5. In 1941 I was awarded the M. A. in Chemistry and finished all requirements for the Ph. D. in July, 1943, but Stanford only awarded graduate degrees in June so my actual Ph. D. is dated 1944. In July, 1943, I joined the Research and Development Dept. of Standard Oil of California, which eventually changed its name to Chevron Oil and my Research Company became California Research Corp. and Finally Chevron Research. In 1982, I retired as Vice-President, Lubricants Research Department.
The research business is difficult to manage or appraise. Generally accomplishments take years to come to fruition. Many researchers fail to achieve anything of significance; it is the nature of the game. I was fortunate to achieve a few important commercial successes.
While still in school, the man who eventually became my brother-in-law, approached me with an agricultural problem. Harmer Countryman, the son of a prominent San Francisco attorney and an outstanding graduate of UC, Davis was managing a huge ranch in the San Joaquin Valley. He was primarily raising cotton. The seeds used for planting were covered with lint, tending to stick together when planted resulting in the use of an excess of seeds. This not only wasted seeds but produced overcrowded seedlings, necessitating costly thinning by hand (chopping cotton). He speculated that we might be able to remove the lint. I went to the lab and developed a process to remove the lint, washed and dried the seeds and finally gave him a product looking like pine nuts. He subsequently proved that the seeds germinated properly and within 2 years converted to the cleaned seeds. Some time later, it appeared all cottonseed in California were delinted. I do not know if my process was responsible for this change.
In the course of my Ph.D. work at Stanford, it became necessary to design sealed equipment to hydrogenate quantitatively micro quantities of the natural product which I was characterizing. This required the stirring of liquid inside the device. My Professor suggested designing a chuck mounted on a motor, and sealing a nail inside a glass tube for the agitator. We successfully designed the gadget and it proved to be quite useful to my research. Subsequently the design was published. Within a few years, equipment suppliers were selling a stirrer based on our design.
In my earliest days at Chevron, one of my supervisors suggested that gasoline would some day be sold much like soap and if we could tailor unique features, it would help sales. It seemed the technology of fuels was quite mature. The spectacular gasoline additive, tetraethyl lead had been designed prior to 1920 and it was an economical way to improve octane rating. Oxidation inhibitors had already been developed to prevent fuel deterioration. It seemed everything had been done. I thought that to have any chance to be innovative, we would have to learn things others had not recognized. Studying the literature revealed interesting work in England on "cool flames." A Professor Walsh at Leeds reported the two stage nature of combustion. Under proper conditions, a combustible mixture of hydrocarbon and air would, after an induction period undergo some oxidation and emit a feeble luminescence termed a cool lame. Further heating could result in explosion. I conceived the idea of devising equipment to produce such a cool flame in a flowing system and then perhaps to sample the mixture in various locales so as to study the process. I built a long heated tube, perhaps 30 feet long and tried to produce the luminescence, but could not see it, although the odor of the effluent convinced me something was happening. One evening, with Phyllis with me, we returned to the lab, I started up the equipment in the darkness, and soon Phyllis noticed the cool flame - great excitement. The flame appeared as a feeble plane of luminescence, which could be moved at will by adjusting the flow rate of the gases. I subsequently proceeded to convert the laboratory into a dark room and research was accelerated. People love phenomena they can see and this equipment became a great curiosity for not only research management, but also Socal top brass.
The tendency to produce a cool flame from various hydrocarbons proved to correlate with octane number, indicating that we were studying a significant process and we proceeded to investigate the chemical changes occurring. All of this work was eventually published. A product of the process was in part a tarry mixture and characterization of this mass eventually proved of great value.
While all the above was happening, we learned that Arco had developed a rust inhibitor for gasoline. Fuels are introduced into pipelines while still warm and they are saturated with water. As they cool, water separates and can cause rusting of metal surfaces, necessitating the introduction of a "pig," a float with steel brushes, to remove most of the rust. The rust causes friction decreasing the lines capacity. We proceeded to devise bench tests to simulate the rusting, and then to develop our own rust inhibitor, which soon was used in our pipelines. This was my first commercial gasoline additive.
Some of the mechanical engineers we worked with had found that the major problem encountered in automobiles was the result of deposits in carburetors, so an extensive study of this problem was initiated in the laboratory. It turned out the carburetor deposits were chemically similar to the tarry materials produced in our cool flame flow system. These deposits had acidic groups, suggesting that a detergent that could react with these groups might alleviate the problem. After considerable efforts we found some materials that showed promise. Bench tests were devised for their evaluation and we began to optimize our molecule. This finally led to a detergent that at very low concentration (0.003%), gradually cleansed the carburetor totally. In 1954, Chevron began use of this additive and advertised it as the "World's First Detergent Action Gasoline." Subsequently federal laws have required that additives of this type be present in all gasolines.
The new detergent was a major break through but problems in other parts of the intake system soon became apparent. These were particularly pressing in taxi fleets whose cars did considerable idling in traffic. Manifolds could actually clog up with heavy deposits. Our detergent, at increased concentration was effective in reducing the problem, if we greatly increased its concentration. However the high concentrations resulted in emulsions being formed in the gasoline distribution, so back we went to find a detergent that we could use. It turned out that an experimental lube oil detergent fit the bill and it was subsequently added to our fuel with outstanding success. It is quite clear that Chevron Research. Discovered and pioneered the use of fuel detergents.
When lead was phased out of gasoline, these detergents caused a problem because they contributed to the formation of combustion chamber deposits. Lead was removed from gasoline to allow the catalyst in afterburners to remain active. Such afterburners were necessary to complete the combustion of unburned hydrocarbons which were significant contributors to smog. My successors in this work proceeded to develop Techron a modification of the original detergent, in which an oxide group was introduced to cause it to be clean burning in a lead free fuel. Techron is now used as a major advertising feature for Chevron fuels.
Another class of fuel additives where we had success was tailored for Diesel fuels. Diesel engines operate by spontaneous ignition of the fuel air mixture, rather than by spark ignition, as in the gasoline engine. Cetane numbers, somewhat a reciprocal of the octane numbers, measure the ease of ignition of a Diesel fuel. Prior to my employment, Chevron had developed a process for creating cetane improvement using an air blown solvent. Early on, I studied the process by which such additives were made, the active ingredient promoting the cetane improvement being alkyl hydroperoxides. However introduction of such materials into most Diesel fuels produced only a temporary improvement. By converting the alkyl hydroperoxide to a dialkyl peroxide, we diminished its stability to raise the cetane number but the increases were stable and this became the basis for a useful commercial additive.
Later, intake system deposits were encountered in Diesel engines, particularly in the injectors. It was natural to develop detergents for alleviating this problem which we had success in doing.
Another field of additives in which we accomplished an innovation, was in antiknocks. As the internal combustion engine developed, higher and higher compression engines were introduced. These engines required fuels more resistant to knock. Within my group, we had ongoing activity, primarily physical chemists, studying the antiknock phenomenon. As mentioned earlier, the ingenious work of Thomas Midgely, produced tetraethyl lead, an economical but noxious chemical which retarded knock. Our studies led to the theory that the antiknock additive, to be effective, had to decompose, then form finely divided lead oxide particles which could deactivate the radicals in the combustion process which resulted in knock. We further theorized that as compression ratios increased, the tetraethyl lead decomposed earlier in the cycle providing more time for the lead oxide particles to agglomerate, making them less effective. We set out to find a more stable version of the additive, leading eventually to the selection of teramethyl lead. This compound is much more volatile than tetraethyl lead, but considerably more stable. These compounds are extremely toxic, can be absorbed through the skin, and require great care in the handling of the pure compound. We were much concerned that the higher volatility would produce toxic gasoline fumes. To study this effect, we used the underground gasoline filling area of the San Francisco Yellow Cab Company. Lead burden of the body can be determined by urinalysis. We sent a man to the underground facilities where he monitored the collection of urine. The subject employee was instructed to thoroughly cleanse his penis, prior to offering a sample. It turned out that no significant differences were caused by the more volatile antiknock, which is for more resistant to metabolism in the body. Finally we decided to switch our antiknock additive to tetramethyl lead, resulting in considerable monetary savings for the company. "Methyl" became an advertising theme for Chevron.
Lastly, our work on antiknocks led to the development of a "lead extender", which was introduced to slow the agglomeration of the active lead oxide. This probably would have been commercialized, but at about this time the use of lead alkyls was being phased out to protect the afterburner catalyst.
In summation, I think the record of success in devising new fuel additives was surprisingly good. I do not mean to suggest this was a one man show. My engineering colleagues contributed greatly. With success my group grew, and I had physical chemist collaborators who taught me vital information. We also had some capable synthetic chemists. However it is clear, that I initiated what became the fuel additive group, and was responsible for choosing the direction of our research. I believe during my tenure, we were able to initiate and exploit basic research more than other groups of the laboratory.
Toward the end of my career in fuels, I was made responsible for a small group we had doing research on fuel cells. Fuel cells provide an effective method for generating an electric current by the combination of hydrogen and oxygen. Clearly hydrogen is the best of chemical fuels, as it can produce energy without contributing to air pollution and has an extremely high heat of combustion. Most of the energy a fuel provides an engine comes from its hydrogen. However, the element does not exist uncombined in nature. Though an ocean of hydrogen exists, it will never be possible to produce a net gain in energy by taking the water apart to make hydrogen and then recombining it. We further found that fuel cells required, as I believe they still do, a platinum catalyst and not enough platinum exists to power the American road fleet.
At Chevron Research, the culture was such that it was concluded that a good manager can manage anything. I do not necessarily agree with that precept. Somehow I early on impressed two people. One was the man who eventually became President of the research organization. The other started essentially at the same time as I, but he was in lube oil research rather than fuel. As I rose up in administrative position, he chose to bring me into his group and I succeeded him as Vice-President. In my judgment this was a wrong move. I found that active, hands-on research was vital for me in doing innovative research. In fuel research, I considered myself a world class scientist. During my career, I was awarded the Midgely Medal, by the Detroit Section of the American Chemical Society given usually annually, for outstanding chemical contribution to the automotive industry. I was often invited to speak at Universities around the world, being the author of several publications. I remember being awake at night trying to figure ways of research that would be of value. Incidentally, I still find myself doing this. When I moved into lube oil management, I no longer found myself the most knowledgeable guy on the block. I did learn management skills, and I think my group was quite happy working for a supervisor who really appreciated research, but I was never again able to be as innovative. In my judgment, I would have been more effective leading the fuel group, with my expertise than in the lube group, where my knowledge was shallower. However, research tends to be a young man's business and most probably it made little difference.
I decry the current tendency in the nation to reduce research efforts. Clearly, it takes years of effort to conceive new ideas and bring them to fruition. Executives have trouble justifying such long range efforts, as the economic justification of the work, based on the present value of the dollar, cause such expenditures to seem unwarranted. Further, it is not in the interest of the ambitious manager to promote work that will not pay off for decades. In spite of this, I believe that the development of a strong team of research people, highly specialized in technology is in the nation's interest. Unfortunately, technology in this country appears to be taking a different turn.
Political and Social Activities
In my early teenage years, I developed quite an interest in the underprivileged. This was in part stimulated by my Father's eldest brother, Walter who was quite the radical. During depression years, many intellectuals were sympathetic to the radical ideas of the left, as our whole economic system was failing. I attended the lectures of among others, Earl Browder, a Communist Candidate for President, and of Paul Robeson. Robeson, a black intellectual, clearly appeared to me to be an outstanding person. He had been an All American Football player at Rutgers and a Phi Bete. He was the outstanding basso, perhaps of the century, the original singer Of Old Man River, and a marvelous Shakespearean actor. Seeing him as Othello was one of the great theatre experiences of my life. Robeson was ahead of his time, refusing to conform to the Jim Crow customs of the day. Generally on coming to San Francisco, he would go to a fine restaurant, be thrown out for being black, and file a law suit. These facts gave me an early interest in race relations.
These attitudes were complemented by Phyllis, who at the age of fourteen had been taken, by her grandmother, on a grand tour of Europe. Her Grandmother, as a young lady had been sent to Europe for education and introduced Phyllis to distant relatives in France. One of these ran a parochial school in the Jura Mountains, which Larry or Ron visited and John Hammond, our next door neighbor attended. Another, a resident of Strassbourg married Juliette Brun, who became a simultaneous translator. Throughout her life, Phyllis made special attempts to keep up with these foreign relatives.
We found the acquaintances with peoples of a different culture to be most rewarding and made special efforts to cultivate such people. We soon discovered that peoples of color could be particularly fascinating. When the UN was formed in San Francisco in 1946, the populace was much involved. Phyllis and her Mother, a personable outgoing lady wanted to participate. Early on they got all dressed up, went to a downtown hotel and managed to get acquainted with the Haitian delegation, whom we befriended. At one time we put on a dinner for some of the delegates in our Kensington House. They arrived in big Cadillacs with flags flying - we were most impressed as we thought the neighbors would be. It turned out the neighbors only worried that we were selling to Blacks. In any case this was the start of our relation ship with The Joseph Nadal family, super affluent residents of Port-au-Prince. We maintained this relationship, with occasional cross visits. Joseph had to leave Haiti when Papa Doc selected him as Foreign Minister. It was not healthy to refuse Papa Doc, but Joseph did, building a chateau on the French Riviera where we stayed at least twice. Joseph, and his charming wife Lylliane, sent their son, Jean Claude, to school in Montreal, and finally to the Bay Area where he attended Menlo College. We acted as sort of foster parents to him. We still maintain a close relationship with him, generally seeing him when we are in Miami, where he keeps an apartment. The Nadals are from a different world, being close to the Rockefellers.
With our Haitian contacts, we became friendly with a young Marin County couple, the honorary Haitian Consul. We were frequently invited to diplomatic parties and befriended a young Pakistani, a junior member of the Pakistani Consul, Abdul Sattar. Sattar and his wife, Yasmine, became close friends. He advanced through the Pakistani diplomatic corps. We visited with him when he was Ambassador to Austria and when he was Ambassador to India. His son, Munof, by an earlier arranged marriage, came to San Francisco, became a citizen so he could return to Pakistan and draw an American's salary. We still correspond with him.
We found our relationships with the foreign community quite satisfying, and began to realize that the minority groups in our country had much to offer. I had become quite active in North Richmond, said to be one of the state's most impoverished areas. I served on the Board of the North Richmond Neighborhood House and there became friends with a black young attorney, George Carroll, and his wife the beautiful Lorna. They were from Brooklyn. Lorna was the first black clerk hired by the Macy's Department store. We became close. George, who with our help and that of other Point Richmond neighbors eventually became Mayor, the first black mayor of a major (>100,000) American City. We also befriended The Gil Cartwright, a black accountant, and his wife Peggy. We were quite close to the whole Cartwright family. Peggyy's father had been a superintendent of schools. Their daughter Alison, was a raving beauty, became also an accountant, and eventually married a Richmond lad who overlapped Larry and Ron at Harvard. Gil and Peggy attended Ron & Cyn's wedding in the Harvard Chapel in Cambridge.
In ~1960, Jean Knox, a friend and neighbor, inveigled me to stand for election to the Richmond Elementary School Board. My main platform centered on nepotism. The Board was in process off selecting a new chief administrator. The heir apparent had a brother on the Board, working for his appointment. Surprisingly, I won the election. During the campaign, the boys and their mother spent nearly every evening and weekends ringing doorbells. I spent Sundays, speaking in the churches of North Richmond, making numerous friends. I carried the black community by a huge margin, but the election was not close. Two years later the elementary and high school districts unified and I was elected to a four year term on the new Board. It was the times of struggles to integrate our schools, and I became a prime leader in that fight, which was fascinating. Our board was determined to integrate the schools and during that period there was quite a struggle for excellence in the schools. The community was deeply divided, and tempers were hot. I had to be escorted by police to meetings, with threats of lynching. This was the time when California, that had always been a leader in education, reached its Zenith. Unfortunately, in my opinion, racial intolerance won out, the Board was replaced with right wingers, and California grade school education began its slide toward the bottom.
A final comment I'd like to make is on our nation's attitude on communism. We tend to really hate that system. My own, limited reading of Marx, does not reveal hateful teachings. To each according to his need, from each according to his ability, seems an idea worth considering. It is true that the USSR, under Communism was a repugnant nation and their leaders were terrible. However, it seems to me that most nations behave in a repugnant fashion and tend to have evil leaders. The same can be said for the USA. Russia was almost from the start, corrupt, but most nations appear to get corrupt with time. We seem afraid to compete openly with communist nations, and try to drag them down; witness our treatment of little Cuba. By contrast, my opinion is that it would be in our interest to compete openly with other systems. Some might prove to have methods that are superior, from which we might learn.
Published with permission of Maurice R. Barusch.
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