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John R. Kosak

by Susan J. Ainsworth
August 9, 2010 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 88, ISSUE 32

John R. Kosak, 80, a retired DuPont senior research associate, died on July 5 in Wilmington, Del.

Born in Wilmington, Kosak received both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of Delaware. He then earned a doctorate in organic chemistry from Michigan State University in 1957.

Kosak spent most of his career at DuPont’s Chambers Works, in Deepwater, N.J., where he developed a plethora of hydrogenation bimetallic catalysts for the reduction of nitroaromatics and nitriles. Most notably, he discovered a trimetallic catalyst and amine additives to inhibit the buildup of unstable aromatic hydroxylamines during nitroaromatic reductions. Kosak was also instrumental in the development of a catalyst for hydrogen peroxide synthesis. He retired in 1993 after 36 years with DuPont.

He shared 30 patents, was the author or coauthor of several scientific papers on catalytic hydrogenation and thermal analysis, and edited two books on catalysis. He spoke Polish, German, and Russian fluently.

Kosak was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1952. He was also an active and longtime member of the Catalysis Club of Philadelphia, the North American Catalysis Society, and the Organic Reactions Catalysis Society, receiving its Paul N. Rylander Award in 1994 and chairing its 1982 and 1992 conferences.

His wife, Geraldyne, died eight years ago. He is survived by his daughter, Marcia Samples; son, Philip; and two granddaughters.

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