Otto Bayer

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Otto Bayer 2016-12-06T05:35:21+00:00


(1902 – 1982)


Otto Bayer was born in Germany in 1902 at Frankfurt-am-Maine where he studied chemistry at the University under Julius von Braun. He obtained his doctorate in 1924.

In 1927 he joined IG Farbenindustrie AG as a research chemist and in 1934 became manager of their laboratory at Leverkusen. Here, he turned his attention to polymer chemistry where his major contribution was the discovery of polyurethanes. In 1937 he succeeded in producing a polymer by reacting 1:8 octane diisocyanate with 1:4 butanediol – a tough plastics which was later used to manufacture high-quality brush bristles. The basic patent concerning the reaction of di-isocyanates was taken out in the same year.

In 1941, as a result of using an impure polyester component containing unreacted carboxyl groups, a foamed product was formed – this led to the deliberate addition of small quantities of water to the reaction, resulting in a flexible foam – by far the most important polyurethane material.

Otto Bayer joined the board of IG Farben in 1939. Farbenfabriken Bayer, a major constituent of IG Farben when it was formed in 1925 was re-established in 1951 when the conglomerate was broken up after the Second World War. Otto Bayer was appointed research director of the re-established company which, entirely coincidentally, shared his name, becoming its chairman in 1964 until his retirement in 1967. He died in 1982.

The following awards are among his many honours;

Adolf Baeyer Medal (1951)
Gauss-Weber Medal (1952)
Siemens Ring (1960)
Carl Duisberg Medal (1960)
Otto N Wikt Medal (1966)
Hermann Staudinger Prize (1973)
Charles Goodyear Medal (1975)