William E. "Butch" Hanford
Dr. William Hanford was the co-inventor of polyurethanes and received more than 120 patents, most of them in polymer science. Though other work on PUR's was also done in Germany and led to the first commercialization of PUR's, Hanford's patent is cited as basic for all PUR materials.
The co-inventor of polyurethanes (PURs), Dr. Willliam Hanford had a long and distinguished career in plastics and chemicals and received more than 120 patents, most of them in polymer science. In 1942, Hanford and Dr. Donald F. Holmes received a patent (assigned to E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.) regarded as the first public disclosure of PUR chemistry. Though other work on PURs was also done in Germany and led to the first commercialization of PURs, Hanford's patent is cited as basic for all PUR materials.
Known throughout the industry by the nickname "Butch", Hanford was born in Bristol, Pennsylvania, and received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in organic chemistry from the University of Illinois. He worked at du Pont from 1935 to 1942, then served as head of research at other corporations, including Olin Corp., where he was vice president of R&D until his retirement in 1973. Then, with his son William E. Hanford, Jr., he founded World Water Resources, Inc., which distributes water-purification chemicals to less developed countries.
Besides PURs, Hanford did important research in nylon, polyester fluropolymer, and other chemistries. His work at du Pont made possible the commercialization of Teflon fluropolymer.
In 1991, Hanford and Holmes were elected to the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Among Hanford's other honors are the Chemical Industry Medal of the Chemical Industry and the gold medal of the American Institute of Chemists.
Besides his son, he is survived by his wife, Lorraine.