Noteworthy People - Charles Hall
Inventor of the Process to Commercially Produce Aluminum
Charles Martin Hall was born December 6, 1863 in Thompson, Ohio, son of Rev. Heman Bassett Hall and Sophronia H. Brooks Hall. In 1873 the Hall family moved to Oberlin, Ohio. He took preparatory work at Oberlin High School, which was supplemented by one year in the Oberlin Academy including lessons in the Conservatory of Music. Hall graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1885, and 8 months later he invented an inexpensive method for the production of aluminum.
On February 23, 1886, in the woodshed behind his family's home, he produced globules of aluminum metal by the electrolysis of aluminum oxide dissolved in a cryolite-aluminum fluoride mixture and repeated this experiment the next day for his sister Julia to witness. Achievement was the culmination of several years of intensive work on this problem.
In 1889, Hall found a financial backer in Alfred E. Hunt, and the two of them founded the Pittsburgh Reduction Company and in 1907 was renamed the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA). In 1890, he became its vice president. By 1914, his process had brought the cost of aluminum from twelve dollars per pound down to 18 cents a pound.
He was a generous benefactor to Oberlin College, bequeathing more than $5 million. He passed away on December 27, 1914 in Daytona Beach, Florida.
TIMELINE OF ACHIEVEMENTS
- 1889 - Hall was granted patent #400,655 for his process to commercially produce aluminum. Hall also filed several new patents for making improvements in the production of aluminum, including one registered 4 years after his death.
- 1911 - In 1911, Hall was awarded the prestigious Perkin Medal for outstanding achievement in applied chemistry.
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