Upcoming Black History Posts
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
  • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
  • Morgan State University
  • Richard Wright
  • Thelma ‘Butterfly’ McQueen
  • Robert H. Sengstacke
  • Earl Lloyd
Categories

Norbert Rillieux

Norbert Rillieux

Norbert Rillieux

Norbert Rillieux was born on March 17, 1806 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Norbert was born a free man, although his mother was a slave. His father was a wealthy White engineer involved in the cotton industry. As a child Norbert was educated in the Catholic school system in New Orleans but was sent to Paris, France for advanced schooling.

He studied at the L’Ecole Centrale, the top engineering school in the country and at age 24 became an instructor of applied mechanics at the school, the youngest person to achieve this position. He published a series of papers related to “the Functions and Economic Implications of the Steam Engine.” Eventually, in 1834, Rillieux returned home to his father’s plantation which was now also being used to process and refine sugar.

Sugarcane had become the dominant crop within Louisiana, but the sugar refining process employed at that time was extremely dangerous and very inefficient. Known as the “Jamaica Train”, the process called for sugarcane to be boiled in huge open kettles and then strained to allow the juice to be separated from the cane. The juice was then evaporated by boiling it at extreme temperatures, resulting in granules being left over in the form of sugar. The danger stemmed from the fact that workers were forced to transport the boiling juice from one one kettle to another, chancing the possibility of suffering severe burns. It was also a very costly process considering the large amount of fuel needed to heat the various kettles.

During the 1830s, France witnessed the introduction of the steam-operated single pan vacuum . The vacuum pan was enclosed in an area with the air removed (this was necessary because liquids can boil at a lower temperature in the absence of air than with air present, thus costing less). Rillieux decided to improve greatly on this efficiency by including a second and later a third pan, with each getting heating by its predecessor.

In 1833, Rillieux was approached by a New Orleans sugar manufacturer named Edmund Forstall. Because numerous sugar producers had received complaints about product quality, Forstall persuaded Norbert to become the Chief Engineer of the Louisiana Sugar Refinery. Unfortunately, almost as soon as Norbert took the job, an intense feud developed between Forstall and his father, Vincent Rillieux. Out of loyalty to his father, Norbert left his position with the company. A few years later, Norbert was hired by Theodore Packwood to improve his Myrtle Grove Plantation refinery. In doing so he employed his triple evaporation pan system which he patented in 1843. It was an enormous success and revolutionized the sugar refining industry improving efficiency, quality and safety.

In the 1850s, New Orleans was suffering from an outbreak of Yellow Fever, caused by disease-carrying mosquitos. Rillieux devised an elaborate plan for eliminating the outbreak by draining the swamplands surrounding the city and improving the existing sewer system, thus removing the breeding ground for the insects and therefore the ability for them to pass on the disease. Unfortunately, Edmund Forstall, Norbert’s former employer was a member of the state legislature and spoke out against the plan. Forstall was able to turn sentiment against Rillieux and the plan was rejected. Disgusted will the racism prevalent in the south as well as the frustration of local politics Rillieux eventually left New Orleans and moved back to France (ironically, after a number of years in which time the Yellow Fever continued to devastate New Orleans, the state legislature was forced to implement an almost identical plan introduced by white engineers.

After returning to France, Rillieux spent much of his time creating new inventions and defending his patents as well as traveling abroad. Rillieux died on October 8, 1894 and left behind a legacy of having revolutionized the sugar industry and therefore changing the way the world would eat.

Source: The Inventive Spirit of African Americans (Patricia Carter Sluby).

Black AMerica News

Papa John’s Scores Shaq To Help Revive Its ImageNEW YORK (AP) — Papa John’s has a new pitchman: Shaquille O’Neal. The chain says basketball Hall of Famer will appear on TV commercials and promote Papa John’s in other ways. He will also join the com [...]

Harris To Visit Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church In AtlantaATLANTA (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris is set to speak Sunday at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King Jr. once occupied the pulpit. Other 2 [...]

4-Year-Old With Spina Bifida Walks For First Time As Friends Cheer Her On [Video]All kids have dreams and for Four-year-old Kenydii Parker, that dream was to walk. Kenydii’s father, Kenneth Parker, told PEOPLE she was born with Spina bifida and has been using a wheelchair. But Ken [...]

Vegas Cop Arrested For Recording Man’s Genitals, Making Mentally Ill Man TwerkA Las Vegas police officer will face felony police misconduct charges after she was caught running background checks for her friends, making racist and homophobic jokes and sharing demeaning videos of [...]

Booker Nets 1st 2020 Endorsement From S. Carolina LawmakerCOLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker has netted the first endorsement from a sitting lawmaker in the crucial early-voting state of South Carolina. State Rep. John King t [...]

16-Year-Old Accepted Into 9 Law Schools [VIDEO]Via Bossip: Another brilliant Black girl will make you deeply assess what you’re doing with your life. According to Texas Lawyer, Haley Taylor Schlitz is a 16-year-old who’s already on track to gradua [...]

Defense Expert Says Cop Went By The Book In Teen’s ShootingPITTSBURGH (AP) — East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld did everything by the book in his fatal encounter with an unarmed black teenager outside Pittsburgh last summer, a defense expert says. [...]

Jimmy Carter’s New Milestone: Longest-Lived US PresidentATLANTA (AP) — Nearly four decades after voters unceremoniously rejected then-President Jimmy Carter’s bid for a second term, the 39th president has reached a milestone that electoral math cannot disp [...]

Man Exonerated In Rape Case And Freed After 35 YearsBATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A man convicted of a 1982 rape in Louisiana‘s capital city walked free Thursday after 35 years in prison, following his exoneration using an updated fingerprint database. The I [...]

ACLU Sues FBI For Records Related To Black Extremists ReportSAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union sued the FBI on Thursday for records related to a divisive 2017 report that said black extremists were on the rise following the shooting deaths [...]

Trump Signs Executive Order To Protect Free Speech On College CampusesPresident Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday requiring U.S. colleges to protect free speech on their campuses or risk losing federal research funding. The new order directs federal agenci [...]

After Two Crashes, Boeing To Make Safety Feature Standard On Troubled Max JetsBoeing will make standard on its troubled new airliner a safety feature that might have helped the crew of a jet that crashed shortly after takeoff last year in Indonesia, killing everyone on board. T [...]

Keisha Lance Bottoms Announces New Probe Into Atlanta Child MurdersATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta’s mayor and police chief are leading a push to re-examine evidence from a string of murders that terrorized the city’s black community between 1979 and 1981. Mayor Keisha Lance [...]

Cyclone Idai Death Toll Up To 550 In AfricaCHIMANIMANI, Zimbabwe (AP) — Reports from the United Nations and African governments say Cyclone Idai’s death toll has risen to over 550 people. A U.N. official says Cyclone Idai has killed 242 people [...]

Prairie View A&M Student Hospitalized After Roommate Pours Bleach On HerJulisha Wyatt, 19, was taken by ambulance to the hospital after the incident caused minor burns on her body as well. [...]

Defense Asks For Cop’s Acquittal On Murder In Antwon Rose’s DeathPITTSBURGH (AP) — After prosecutors wrapped up their case, the lawyer for a white former police officer charged in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager asked a judge Thursday to issue an ac [...]

Facebook Stored Millions Of Passwords In Plain TextSAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook had stored millions of user passwords in plain text for years, the social media company confirmed on Thursday after a security researcher posted about the issue online. F [...]

Black Man Detained While Moving Into His Own HomeThe Kansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday asked state officials to investigate after a black man was detained by police while moving into his home, then allegedly harassed f [...]

Brothers Charged After Shooting Pregnant Woman Standing At Bus StopTwo brothers have been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after shooting a 20-year-old pregnant woman Thursday, according to KHOU. Kwan Tayes, 21, and Nickolaus Collins, 19, were arr [...]

Mississippi Governor Set To Sign ‘Heartbeat’ Abortion LawJACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Gov. Phil Bryant says he’s not worried about lawsuits as Mississippi prepares to enact one of the strictest abortion laws in the nation. The Republican governor is scheduled to s [...]