By E. N. Brandt
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Additional resources for We Called it MAG-nificent: Dow Chemical and Magnesium, 1916-1998
In the 1930s the first serious explorations of the stratosphere were also taking place, and as this race developed it pitted the Russians against the Americans and set the stage for Sputnik and the renewal of the space race between the two nations that was to come about some years later, in the 1950s and 1960s. 1 The basic contest was to determine which of the two powers could reach the highest altitude above the earth, and the 29 Chapter Three 30 vehicle for determining this was the balloon. As the race went on, the balloons employed got bigger and bigger, and went higher and higher, and the scientific instruments they carried to determine the nature of the stratosphere got more and more sophisticated.
Brick) Dressel, Beutel’s assistant; Roy Osmun, assistant superintendent of the Kure Beach plant; and Joe Bayliss, who had helped to pick out Kure Beach, to sample seawater up and down the coast of Louisiana and Texas for its bromine content. 3 In late 1938, Willard Dow and Dutch Beutel reconnoitered the entire Gulf Coast themselves, driving along the coast all the way from New Orleans to Brownsville, Texas, at the Mexican border, and looking at potential plant sites along the way. In this first sweep Corpus Christi emerged as their top choice, and other candidates they selected for further study were Brownsville, Port Isabel, and Ingleside.
It made it possible to take ocean water in at the old river mouth, extract the bromine and magnesium, and then discharge the stream back into the ocean at a point several miles down the coast, thus avoiding the possibility of reprocessing the same water over again. The Dow board quickly authorized the expenditure of $18 million to build the new plant and bought a first parcel of land, 800 acres at $100 an acre. It hired the Austin Company to do the engineering, and a team of engineers and process specialists was assembled in Cleveland to start designing the plant they would build.