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History of Union Carbide Corporation

Union Carbide pioneered the petrochemicals industry and was known as the “chemist to the chemical industry, and metallurgist to the metals industry” in their product discovery and diversity.

Thomas L. Willison with Major James T. Morehead built an unsuccessful aluminum hydroelectric facility in Spray, NC but ultimately produced calcium carbide.
1889 National Carbon Company founded in New Jersey started the dry cell battery business in 1890
1897 A second hydroelectric facility was built in Glen Ferris, WV and produced America’s first high-carbon ferrochrome to support the Spanish–American war.
1900 Union Carbide, officed in Chicago was capitalized at $6 million with calcium carbide plants in Sault Saint Marie, MI, and Niagara Falls, NY.
1904 The Concentrated Acetylene company was incorporated and it’s facility in Speedway, IN used calcium carbide from Union Carbide. It changed it’s name to Prest-O- Lite.
1907 Linde Air Products was incorporated with both National Carbon and Union Carbide having stakes in the company
1913 Mellon Institute established a fellowship (Dr. George O. Curme) to find an alternative source of acetylene and developed an electrothermic process of a petroleum fraction to produce a mixture containing 25% acetylene and about half that much ethylene.
1914 Union Carbide had demonstrated the practicality of the hydration of acetylene to aldol, to acetic acid, and to vinyl acetate, and entered into a fellowship with Curme to find diversified use of calcium carbide and ethylene.
1917 Union Carbide and Carbon Corp. incorporated as a holding company in New York and acquired the stock of Linde Air Products, National Carbon Company, Prest-O-Lite, and Union Carbide Company.
1920 MellMellon used ethylene to make diethyl sulfate, ethanol, and ethylene chlorohydrins, and Linde built an ethylene pilot facility at Buffalo, NY and a small unit to make isopropanol. The pilot plant burned and was rebuilt on the property of Clendenin Gasolene Company engaged in natural gas processing on the bank of the Elk River, about 20 miles from Charleston, WV, using wasted ethane and propane to make ethylene and propylene. Curme joined Union Carbide, became Vice President of Research and ultimately a Director of Union Carbide. Products during the 20s included ethylene glycol (Prestone antifreeze), batteries, Pyrofax gas, acetone, ethanol, isopropanol, ethylene dichloride, ethylene oxide, glycol diacetate, ethylene glycol mono ethyl ether (CELLOSOLVE) and CARBITOL, another glycol ether, acetaldehyde, methanol, ethanol and ethylene amines, carbon electrodes, vanadium, and ferroalloys for steel, and oxygen. Starting with a half dozen compounds in 1925, Carbide was marketing 157 chemicals by 1940.
1923> With a need for expansion, Union Carbide bought the defunct Rollins chemical site on the island in South Charleston, WV, and started production in 1925 with multiple expansions in 1927, 28 and 29.
1925 A joint venture with Niacet Chemicals Corporation in Niagara Falls, NY to produce chemicals from acetylene (acetaldehyde, actetaldol, paraldehyde, crotonaldehyde, acetic acid, acetic anhydride, and vinyl acetate, with its first production in 1928. It was bought out by Union Carbide in 1945 and then sold as a specialty chemical company in 1978.
1929 Union Carbide was the first company to commercially produce vinyl chloride, and vinyl resins in 1931 (Vinylite), and also developed polyvinyl acetyl resin and polyvinyl butyral for safety glass.
1930 During the 30s Union Carbide established plants for plastics and ferroalloys in Norway, Sweden, England, France, and Italy
1932 National Carbon built plants in Mexico and Shanghai, China and later in Jakarta, Indonesia.
1934 Carbide built the Whiting, IN plant to produce acetone and the next year added acetic anhydride.
1935 Linde developed the Driox liquid oxygen process and began separating the rare gasses for sale.
1937 Carbide added a fine chemicals unit at the South Charleston plant that produced over 200 different organic chemicals and in 50s added a unit at Institute.
1939 In a stock exchange, Union Carbide acquired the Bakelite Corporation that added phenol-formaldehyde and urea–formaldehyde thermosetting resins cellulose acetate and polystyrene resins in Bound brook, NJ.
1940  Synthetic gems were developed at Tonawanda and initially marketed as instrument bearings, and later as Linde Star Sapphires and Rubies.
1941 The Texas City plant started producing, ethylene, ethanol, ethylene oxide and glycol, and isopropanol. Craig insecticide 6-12 first made and sold and used widely in the war effort.
The U.S. Government gave Carbide the task of building and producing styrene /butadiene rubber for the war effort, the beginning of the Institute, WVa plant. In an unprecedented fourteen months, the facilities were operating, (Second and third plants built in Kentucky and Pennsylvania) producing 63% of the country’s rubber by 1944.
Similarly, Union Carbide was asked to undertake R&D on the Manhatton project, locating and processing uranium, (resulting in the Mining and Metals Division), and operation of the K-25 gas separation plant at Oak Ridge TN, and then through the Nuclear Division, operation of the entire complex through 1883, all at essentially costs. And in 1942, to develop, design, build, and operate a polyethylene plant.
1949 Research buildings built at So. Charleston Tech Center. Development, Engineering and Ag. Products added in 1959.
1955 SeadSeadrift TX Plant opened, Torrence, CA and Montreal, Canada in 1956, purchased Visking, followed by Sistersville, WV (silicones), and the addition of Ponce, PR.
1957> The hexagon was adopted as the Corporate logo.
1960 270 Park Ave. NYC Corporate Headquarters opened. Craig insecticide Sevin first produced followed by Aldicarb (Temik), and Larvin.
Other ventures during the period included coal hydrogenation, a venture into oil shale, Dynel, the design and Construction of the Taft, LA plant in 1965-68, Ponce, PR in 1972, Prentiss Canada in 1983, and followed by the polysilicons facility in Moses Lake, WA.
1981 Move of Corporate offices to Danbury, CT.
1984 Bhopal methyl isocyanate disaster.
1985 To avoid the GAF hostile takeover attempt, Carbide divested Home and Automotive Products, Battery Products films Packaging, Agricultural Products, and the remainder of the Metals Division. The Carbon Specialties group, and Kemet, went to leveraged buyouts. (all exceeding the market value of the entire Corporation prior to the takeover attempt.
1993 Carbide sale of it’s polysilicon business at Moses Lake.
2001 Acquisition of Union Carbide by Dow Chemical, as a wholly owned subsidiary.
2008-2012 Sell off or closure of a significant number of Union Carbide business lines and facilities.
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