A CROSS-COMPANY, EMULSION-BREAKING PIONEER

VIRGIL SEALE’S PIVOTAL ROLE IN BOTH NALCO CHEMICAL CO. AND CHAMPION TECHNOLOGIES’ RD&E HISTORIES

“NALCO CHAMPION OWES A GREAT DEAL TO VIRGIL SEALE. MUCH OF THE OPPORTUNITY WE ENJOY, AND THE PRESTIGE WE COMMAND, IS ROOTED IN VIRGIL’S FOUNDATIONAL, INNOVATIVE LEADERSHIP IN BOTH LEGACY COMPANIES. IT IS NOT A GREAT EXAGGERATION TO SUGGEST THAT WE WOULD NOT BE HERE TODAY, SITTING AS ONE COMPANY WITH A DOMINANT POSITION IN OUR INDUSTRY, HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR VIRGIL SEALE.”
Sam Events
Global Technology Operations;
Research, Development
and Engineering

from the achivesVirgil Seale would hate this article. Everyone who spoke about his legacy agreed on that. So while we’d like to focus on the man who was mentor to generations of chemists; a man who was a genius — not just about one chemistry, but about all chemistries; a man who hid a big, big heart behind a disciplined, humble, private exterior — we’ll focus instead on his work. As anyone who knew Virgil would tell you, that’s what he’d rather talk about anyway.

Virgil spent most of his life in Houston, Texas, working for both Nalco Chemical Company and Champion Technologies. He pioneered the field of emulsion breaking at Nalco before eventually moving to Champion in 1987, where he built the research department at the Fresno, Texas, facility. His patents have influenced the development of the emulsion breaker lines for both Nalco and Champion for more than 40 years.

When you look at Virgil’s chemical knowledge, fieldwork and patents, the emulsion-breaking technology he contributed to equates to more than 20 million pounds of annual production used to treat a variety of oils all over the world. Additionally, if you have ever driven an automobile, taken a flight, gone on a cruise or even used lighter fluid to light your barbecue, you’ve benefited from Virgil’s work.

And while there’s no way to confirm that Virgil’s penchant for fine wines, chocolate bars and gallons of blueberry cheesecake ice cream were instrumental to his 90 years of life, more than 50 patents and his uncanny ability to break “unbreakable” emulsions, they are a perfectly fitting way to celebrate his lasting contributions.

img-33

Thanks to Darlene Blair, Sam Evetts, Bob Gabel, Scott Knutson, Mike Jackson, Bob Reynolds and Tommy Rush for remembrances, and Debbie Kilen, Chris Morrison and Kimberly Stauffer for research.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.