Move That Doep
Move That Doep
Norbert Rillieux was an African American inventor who was widely considered one of the earliest chemical engineers and noted for his pioneering invention of the multiple-effect evaporator. This invention was an important development in the growth of the sugar industry. Rillieux, a French-speaking Creole, was a cousin of the painter Edgar Degas.
While in France, Norbert Rillieux started researching ways to improve the process of sugar refining. Meanwhile, back in Louisiana, Norbert's brother, Edmond, a builder, along with their cousin, Norbert Soulie, an architect, began working with Edmund Forstall to build a new Louisiana Sugar Refinery.
In 1833, Forstall, having heard about Rillieux's research into sugar refining, offered him the position of Head Engineer at the not-yet-completed sugar refinery. Rillieux accepted the offer and returned to Louisiana to take up his new position.
However, the sugar refinery was never completed due to disagreements between the principals, mainly Edmond Rillieux, his father, Vincent Rillieux, and Edmund Forstall. These disagreements created long-term resentments between the Rillieux family and Edmund Forstall.
Norbert Rillieux's invention revolutionized sugar processing. His great scientific achievement was his recognition that at reduced pressure the repeated use of latent heat would result in the production of better quality sugar at lower cost. One of the great early innovations in chemical engineering, Rillieux’s invention is widely recognized as the best method for lowering the temperature of all industrial evaporation and for saving large quantities of fuel.
Rillieux also turned his engineer skills to dealing with a yellow fever outbreak in New Orleans in the 1850s.
Rillieux presented a plan to the city that would eliminate the moist breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carried the disease by addressing problems in the city's sewer system and drying swamplands in the area. The plan was blocked by Edmund Forstall, now a state legislator.
Several years later, the ongoing yellow fever outbreak in New Orleans was addressed by engineers using a method extremely similar to what Rillieux had proposed.
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