Irwin Lachman

National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Automotives

For their pioneering work resulting in the design and manufacture of the cellular ceramic substrate for catalytic converters that enabled auto manufacturers to develop the first commercially mass-produced automotive catalytic converter.

For their pioneering work resulting in the design and manufacture of the cellular ceramic substrate for catalytic converters that enabled auto manufacturers to develop the first commercially mass-produced automotive catalytic converter.

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Birth
August 2, 1930
Age Awarded
73
Awarded With
Ronald M. Lewis
Rodney Bagley
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
Catalytic Converter
Awarded by
George W. Bush
Education
The Ohio State University
Rutgers University
Areas of Impact
Transportation
Affiliations
Corning Incorporated
Other Prizes
National Inventors Hall of Fame
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Today’s automobiles come in all shapes and sizes, but every engine is equipped with a catalytic converter—a device that transforms automobile exhaust pollutants into less harmful emissions—thanks to the research of engineer Irwin Lachman.

Lachman, who was awarded the National Medal alongside Rodney Bagley and Ronald Lewis, his colleagues at Corning Incorporated, co-invented the cellular ceramic substrate that enabled manufacturers to develop the first commercially mass-produced catalytic converter.

This technology benefitted the environment in two ways. Not only did it reduce polluting emissions from the combustion process by 95 percent, but it also reduced lead pollution, since platinum, the catalyst they used in their invention, required removing lead from gasoline as an additive.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Lachman received his bachelor’s degree in ceramic engineering from Rutgers University, followed by a M.S. and a Ph.D. in the same field from Ohio State University. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, Lachman worked at Thermo Materials, Inc. and the Sandia National Laboratory before joining Corning Incorporated’s ceramic research team.

In all, Lachman holds 47 U.S. patents, has an array of technical articles and has been awarded a number of high-profile awards, including the International Ceramics Prize, for his breakthrough research.

By Sydni Dunn

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