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Theodore A. Koch

by Susan J. Ainsworth
January 19, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 3

Theodore A. Koch, 88, a retired DuPont research scientist who was an authority on heterogeneous catalysis, died at his home in Wilmington, Del., on Sept. 13, 2014.

A native of upstate New York, Koch earned a B.S. in chemistry in 1947 from Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., and a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1952 from the University of Pennsylvania.

He carved out a long career at DuPont, developing chemical processes and bringing them from the benchtop to commercialization with marked creativity and tenacity. Most notably, he developed a new catalyst for nitrous oxide destruction and a new process for hydrogen cyanide manufacture and made improvements to many polymer intermediates processes. He retired from DuPont’s nylon business unit as a DuPont Fellow after 48 years of service.

He held 29 patents and coauthored 18 journal articles and a textbook, “Catalyst Manufacture.” Koch received the Lavoisier Medal for Technical Excellence from DuPont in 1998.

He also served as an adjunct professor of chemical engineering at the University of Delaware and was president of the Catalysis Club of Philadelphia. He was a member of the North American Catalysis Society, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the Organic Reactions Catalysis Society.

Koch’s wife of 62 years, Anne, died in November 2014. He is survived by their five children and five grandchildren.

Obituary notices of no more than 300 words may be sent to Susan J. Ainsworth at and should include an educational and professional history.


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