Thomas Midgley, Jr.

5/19/1889 - 11/2/1944

Inducted 1998

Thomas Midgley, Jr. is regarded as one of the nation’s greatest chemists. He is best known for two major achievements in industrial chemistry: the development of tetraethyl lead as an antiknock gasoline additive and the use of chlorofluorocarbons (Freon) as refrigerants. The gasoline additive enormously increased the performance and efficiency of gas engines and allowed for more powerful cars and high performance airplanes. The discovery of Freon made widespread refrigeration and air conditioning possible, revolutionizing 20th century life. Thomas Midgley came to Dayton to work in the “Inventions Department” at National Cash Register and later worked for Charles F. Kettering at DELCO. Kettering referred to Thomas Midgley as his “greatest discovery.” He was a member of the Dayton Engineer’s Club and one of the many scientists and engineers that made Dayton the Silicon Valley of the early 1900s.