Worcester’s last heat wave brought a wave of renewed appreciation for “Mr. Refrigeration”–the WPI alumnus whose genius made frozen food, skating rinks, and dry ice machines possible.
With temperatures soaring again, it’s time to give thanks to one of his classmates: Charles Gammal ’20, who discovered the secret of sparkling swimming pools.
After graduation, Gammal went to work for the former Mathieson Alkali Works, where he helped develop and patent a process for a high-test hypochlorite product that is now widely know and sold as HTH(r). “Today, hundreds and thousands of pools throughout the country are purified with HTH, Gammal told the WPI Wire, in a 1994 profile. In addition to additives for sanitizing swimming pools and drinking water, Gammal also worked on oxidizing agents used for bleaching powder in laundries and dry cleaners.
The pride of WPI’s Chemistry Department, Gammal returned to WPI in 1924 as a laboratory assistant. He later started his own firm, the Gammal Chemical Company. He died in 2000, after sending a son–and two grandchildren–to WPI. Obviously, he thought WPI is a very cool school.