SARASOTA, Fla.—Aubert "Aubie" Coran, the 1995 recipient of the ACS Rubber Division's Charles Goodyear Medal, died Oct. 20 in Sarasota. He was 88.
Coran pioneered work in thermoplastic elastomers and delayed action accelerated sulfur vulcanization during a 36-year career at Monsanto Co., leading to his receiving the Rubber Division's highest honor.
During his time at Monsanto, he helped develop a number of materials, including Santoprene, Santogard PVI and Vocol accelerator for vulcanization. His research also delved extensively into the vulcanization of rubber with sulfur and accelerators.
"Although there have been many other contributions over the years to our understanding of vulcanization chemistry, it seems clear that he played the leading role in the remarkable progress made since about 1960," A.N. Gent wrote in a letter supporting Coran's nomination for the medal.
His other honors include the 1980 Thomas Midgley award from the Detroit Division of the American Chemical Society for his work on tire rubber vulcanization, and the 1984 Colwyn Medal, given by the Plastics and Rubber Institute. The Rubber Division also honored him with its Melvin Mooney Distinguished Technology Award in 1983.
After retiring from Monsanto in October 1991, he became manager of the EPIC-M.A. Hanna Polymer Blending and Compounding Center at the University of Akron's Institute of Polymer Engineering.
Despite his success in the rubber industry, Coran's father actually wanted him to go in a different direction. Born and raised in St. Louis, his father wanted him to own a drugstore, but Coran wanted to follow a technical path and become an engineer, according to a biography of Coran given by R. Warren Wise when Coran received the Charles Goodyear Medal at the 1995 Rubber Division spring meeting in Philadelphia.
After getting a degree at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, Coran's father got his son an interview at Monsanto in St. Louis, assuming he wouldn't get the position. But he was hired as a research chemist, with his first research assignment on the study of plasticizers for flexible vinyl plastics.
An early group leader said he had the "opportunity to observe—often with admiration, sometimes even with a little professional jealousy—his many innovative technical capabilities and accomplishments," according to the Wise biography.
During his career at Monsanto, he held a variety of positions, landing in 1969 at Monsanto's newly opened Rubber Chemicals Research Laboratories, where the work took place that led to the development of the Santoprene-brand line of thermoplastic vulcanizates. Coran took on a management position as a research section manager from 1970-72, before switching back to Monsanto's technical progression ladder as a senior science fellow, and eventually promoted in 1975 to a distinguished science fellow, the highest technical position at that time within Monsanto.
After retiring from Monsanto in 1991, he returned to a research project started earlier with Professor J.B. Donnet in France, and received his doctorate in 1992 from the L'Universite de Haute Alsace.
In his presentation accepting the Charles Goodyear Medal, Coran said he accepted the award not only on his own behalf, but in the spirit of ideas.
"Throughout much of my career in research at Monsanto, I was allowed to work in an atmosphere of free thought and expression, and to have some fun," Coran said. "There was little need for detailed market projections for products which did not yet exist. We were striving only to see, to feel and to understand.
"The justification of much of our work was faith in the power of free investigation, but within a structure defined by the limits of relevant technological reason. Economic rewards came later with the commercialization of truly new products," he said.
At the time he received the Charles Goodyear Medal, Coran had 40 U.S. patents and an equal number of publications on the dynamic vulcanization technology.
Due to the current health situation, the services were private. Contributions in Coran's memory can be made to the Plymouth Harbor Foundation, 700 John Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, FL, 34236 or to Tidewell Hospice, 5955 Rand Blvd., Sarasota, FL, 34238.