1889 – 1944
Thomas Midgley, Jr. was regarded as one of the nation’s greatest
chemists. He is best known for two major achievements in industrial
chemistry: the development of tetraethyl lead as an antiknock gasoline additive and the use of chlorofluorocarbons (Freon) as refrigerants. The gasoline additive enormously increased the performance and efficiency of gas engines and allowed for more powerful cars and high performance airplanes. The discovery of
Freon made widespread refrigeration and air conditioning possible, revolutionizing 20th century life. Midgley came to Dayton to work in the “Inventions Department” at National Cash Register and later worked for Charles F. Kettering at DELCO. Kettering referred to Midgley as his “greatest discovery.” He was a member of the Dayton Engineer’s Club and one of the many scientists and engineers that made Dayton the Silicon Valley of the early 1900s.