Sergey Lebedev (chemist)
Sergei Vasilievich Lebedev (Russian: Сергей Васильевич Лебедев; 13 July 1874 – 2 May 1934) was a Russian/Soviet chemist and the inventor of polybutadiene synthetic rubber, the first commercially viable and mass-produced type of synthetic rubber.
Sergei Vasiljevich Lebedev
Sergei Vasiljevich Lebedev
|Born||13 July 1874|
|Died||2 May 1934 (aged 59)|
|Alma mater||St. Petersburg University|
|Institutions||Saint Petersburg Academy for Military Medicine|
|Doctoral advisor||Alexey Favorsky|
Starting in 1902, Lebedev moved from university to university in Russia, starting at the Saint-Petersburg Institute for Railroad Engineering. In 1904, he returned to St. Petersburg University to work under Alexey Favorsky (Stalin Prize, 1941, for contributions to the manufacture of synthetic rubber).
In 1915, Lebedev was appointed Professor at the Women's Pedagogical Institute in St. Petersburg. After 1916, he was a Professor of the Saint Petersburg Academy for Military Medicine. In 1925, he became the leader of the Oil Laboratory (after 1928, the Laboratory of Synthetic Resins) at St. Petersburg University.
Lebedev's main works are devoted to polymerisation of diene hydrocarbons. He was the first to research the polymerisation of butadiene (1910–1913). In 1910, Lebedev was the first to get synthetic rubber based on poly-butadiene. His book Research in polymerisation of by-ethylene hydrocarbons (1913) became the bible for studies of synthetic rubber.
After 1914, he studied polymerisation of ethylene monomers, leading to modern industrial methods for manufacturing of butyl synthetic rubber and poly-isobutylene. Between 1926 and 1928, he developed a single-stage method for manufacturing butadiene out of ethanol. In 1928, he developed an industrial method for producing synthetic rubber based on polymerisation of butadiene using metallic sodium as a catalyst. This method became the base for the Soviet industry of synthetic rubber. The Soviets lacked reliable access to natural rubber, making the manufacture of synthetic rubber important. The first three synthetic rubber plants were launched in 1932–33. For butadiene production they used grain or potato ethanol as a feedstock. It caused a number of jokes about "Russian method of making tires from potatoes".
By 1940, the Soviet Union had the largest synthetic rubber industry in the world, producing more than 50,000 tons per year. During World War II, Lebedev's process of obtaining butadiene from ethyl alcohol was also used by the German rubber industry.
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