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Having lost half of its engineers, surviving on a slim diet of engineering projects and with few prospects, UOP recruited the affable president of the Arkansas Natural Gas Corporation David W. Harris to run the company. Harris proved to be an exceptional diplomat, holding plaintiffs at bay while negotiating a handful of new deals to keep the company afloat.
These few years were critical because, in 1947 a protégé of Ipatieff named Vladimir Haensel perfected a revolutionary new method of catalysis that used platinum as a reforming agent. The use of a metal more precious than gold to break down crude oil was thought to be economically impossible. But the method, called the Platforming™ process, greatly multiplied the yields of high-octane gasoline from crude oil while producing hydrogen for purifying — or “hydrotreating” — refinery feedstocks. This invention became the world’s leading process for making gasoline and it gave UOP a new and highly profitable process to replenish its licensing income.
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