John A. Ewen

National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Manufacturing

For his basic discoveries and inventions in the field of metallocene catalysis which have revolutionized the production of polyethylene and polypropylene plastics, thereby enhancing American leadership and stimulating the growth of the entire industry.

For his basic discoveries and inventions in the field of metallocene catalysis which have revolutionized the production of polyethylene and polypropylene plastics, thereby enhancing American leadership and stimulating the growth of the entire industry.

VIEW STATISTICS +

Birth
January 1, 1945
Age Awarded
56
Country of Birth
Jamaica
Key Contributions
More Durable Plastic
Awarded by
George W. Bush
Education
University of West Indies
Tulane University
Areas of Impact
Transportation
Energy & Environment
Health & Medicine
Affiliations
Catalyst Research Corporation
G

Golf balls, medical IV bags, automobile parts and food storage containers may not seem to have much in common, but these objects are all made from the same durable plastic invented by John A. Ewen.

Ewen, the former president of Catalyst Research Corporation, is best known for his work with metallocenes, a catalyst used in the processing of polyethylene and polypropylene plastics. Ewen’s research led to the manufacturing of plastics that were durable, heatproof, tear resistant and transparent. They could also be produced at a higher rate of speed.

His work revolutionized the now-multibillion dollar plastics industry and laid the groundwork for hundreds of subsequent patents.

Ewen, a native of Kingston, Jamaica, discovered his love of chemistry at the University of the West Indies. After graduating from that institution, he immigrated to the United States to continue his education at Tulane University, in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he earned his Ph.D.

After graduation, he worked in manufacturing—at ExxonMobil and later Fina Oil and Chemical Oil Company—and pioneered his plastics research. In addition to his notable work with metallocense, Ewen also developed the “Ewen Symmetry Rules” to make plastics stronger, waterproof and better suited for a diverse range of applications.

By Sydni Dunn

...