Robert Banks (chemist)

Robert L. Banks (November 24, 1921 – January 3, 1989) was an American chemist. He was born and grew up in Piedmont, Missouri. He attended the University of Missouri - Rolla, and initiated into Alpha Phi Omega in 1940. He joined the Phillips Petroleum company in 1946 and worked there until he retired in 1985. He died in Missouri on January 3, 1989.

Robert Banks (chemist)
BornNovember 24, 1921 (1921-11-24)
DiedJanuary 3, 1989 (1989-01-04) (aged 67)
Alma materUniversity of Missouri - Rolla
Known forhigh-density polyethylene
Scientific career
InstitutionsPhillips Petroleum
InfluencesJ. Paul Hogan

Technical contributionsEdit

He was a fellow research chemist of J. Paul Hogan. They began working together in 1946, and in 1951 invented "crystalline polypropylene" and high-density polyethylene (HDPE). These plastics were initially known by the name Marlex. The polymerization of ethylene was made possible by their discovery of the so-called Phillips catalyst.[1]


In 1987, Banks and Hogan won the Perkin Medal, and in 2001 they were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.[2][3] Both were given a Heroes of Chemistry award by the American Chemical Society in 1989.[4] Banks was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame[5] in 2014.


  1. ^ Max P. McDaniel "A Review of the Phillips Supported Chromium Catalyst and Its Commercial Use for Ethylene Polymerization" Advances in Catalysis, 2010, Volume 53, p. 123. doi:10.1016/S0360-0564(10)53003-7
  2. ^ Emsley, John (1999). Molecules at an exhibition: portraits of intriguing materials in everyday life. Oxford University Press. p. 128. ISBN 0-19-286206-5.
  3. ^ "Hall of Fame/inventor profile". National Inventors Hall of Fame. 2002. Archived from the original on 9 July 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
  4. ^ "The Discovery of Polypropylene and the Development of a New High-Density Polyethylene". American Chemical Society. Archived from the original on 24 February 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
  5. ^ Plastics Hall of Fame (2014). "Dr. Robert L. Banks".

External linksEdit