Donald Campbell, Homer Martin, Charles Tyson and Eger Murphree, four inventors working for Exxon, revolutionized the petroleum industry when they created the first efficient and continuous way to refine crude oil. Their invention, known as fluid cat cracking, was granted patent #2,451,804, and came on the heels of America's entry into World War II, meeting the military's need to increase the yield of high-octane aviation fuel. This invention is considered one of the most important chemical engineering achievements of the 20th century. In addition to producing gasoline, their invention is used to manufacture heating oil, propane, butane, and chemicals that are instrumental in products such as plastics and synthetic rubbers.
Campbell, from Clinton, Iowa, had patents on 30 inventions. Martin, who came from Chicago, was one of Exxon's most prolific inventors with 82 patents. Murphree, who was from Bayonne, N.J., went on to become President of Standard Oil of New Jersey, and Tyson, also from Chicago, held over 50 patents, mainly in the petroleum processing area.
This patent, as well as the more than 6 million patents issued since the first in 1790 and the 2.3 million trademarks registered since 1870, can be seen on the Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office website at www.uspto.gov.
Last year USPTO issued 182,223 patents and registered 127,794 trademarks.