Hunter, Matthew Albert

Hunter, Matthew Albert
SUBJECT AREA: Metallurgy
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b. 9 November 1878 Auckland Province, New Zealand
d. 24 March 1961 Troy, New York, USA
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New Zealand/American technologist and academic who was a pioneer in the production of metallic titanium.
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Hunter arrived in England in 1902, the seventh in the succession of New Zealand students nominated for the 1851 Exhibition science research scholarships (the third, in 1894, having been Ernest Rutherford). He intended to study the metallurgy of tellurides at the Royal School of Mines, but owing to the death of the professor concerned, he went instead to University College London, where his research over two years involved the molecular aggregation of liquified gases. In 1904–5 he spent a third year in Göttingen, Paris and Karlsruhe. Hunter then moved to the USA, beginning work in 1906 with the General Electric Company in Schenectady. His experience with titanium came as part of a programme to try to discover satisfactory lamp-filament materials. He and his colleagues achieved more success in producing moderately pure titanium than previous workers had done, but found the metal's melting temperature inadequate. However, his research formed the basis for the "Hunter sodium process", a modern method for producing commercial quantities of titanium. In 1908 he was appointed Assistant Professor of Electrochemistry and Physics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, where he was to remain until his retirement in 1949 as Dean Emeritus. In the 1930s he founded and headed the Institute's Department of Metallurgical Engineering. As a consultant, he was associated with the development of Invar, Managanin and Constantan alloys.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
1851 Great Exhibition science research scholar 1902–5. DSc London University 1904. American Die Casting Institute Doehler Award 1959. American Society for Metals Gold Medal 1959.
Bibliography
1910, "Metallic titanium", Journal of the American Chemistry Society 32:330–6 (describes his work relating to titanium production).
Further Reading
1961, "Man of metals", Rensselaer Alumni News (December), 5–7:32.
JKA

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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