Company Veteran First Bridgestone Firestone Research Fellow
Dr. William L. Hergenrother has been promoted to the newly created position of Research Fellow by Bridgestone Americas Center for Research and Technology (BACRT), effective October 1, 2008. This achievement recognises Hergenrother’s 45 years of contributions to Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire (BFNT).
Hergenrother joined Firestone Central Research in 1963, at what was then The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company, after obtaining his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from The University of Notre Dame. In this new role, Hergenrother will continue advising BACRT management on strategic technical issues. He will also continue serving as both an internal technical resource for all BACRT projects and a technical resource for all parts of Bridgestone Corporation.
“Bill shows enormous achievement and plays an invaluable role in our business,” said Shunji Araki, director of BACRT. “Bill has won three CEO awards, two in the past five years, and many key polymers have been implemented as a result of his innovative thinking and teamwork with his colleagues. He should be very proud of his achievements, and we all look forward to his continued success.”
Hergenrother has been a pioneer in the area of functionalised polymers, a technology that allows polymers to attach to carbon black or silica particles used in the tyre compound. This attachment improves tyre wear and rolling resistance, leading to tyres that last longer and deliver greater fuel economy. He is also well known for his efforts regarding functional additives and their improvement of tyre properties.
Other areas in which Hergenrother has worked include: plastics and thermosets, high-impact nylon materials, polyphosphazenes, run-flat tyre sidewall formulations, cure systems for self-sealing tyres, asphalt modification technology, and pioneering measurements of crosslink density in cured rubber systems. Bridgestone reports that his contributions have had a major impact on the company’s bottom line.
Dr. Hergenrother has also been busy in the patents department, having been a named inventor on 989 patent applications worldwide, 269 US applications and 170 US-issued patents. His contributions in the area of intellectual property were recognised with the Bridgestone Leadership in Innovation award in 2002.
“Bill’s promotion is well deserved. His tremendous contributions and accomplishments to Bridgestone are well documented,” said Jon Wood, chief counsel, Intellectual Property for Bridgestone Americas. “Bill is one of those rare people who, 20 years from now, I will proudly say ‘I worked with Bill Hergenrother.’”
Hergenrother’s contributions are also widely recognised by colleagues at the Bridgestone Technical Center in Tokyo. “We are thankful to Bill, not only is he an extraordinary inventor and mentor but he brings an endless curiosity to his work and has a wealth of knowledge about the chemical properties of rubber and tyre performance, “ said Tatsuro Hamada, director of Tire Materials Development Division, Bridgestone Corporation. “Bill gets great joy out of solving technological problems which is inspiring to our entire research team.”
He has authored or co-authored 38 scientific publications and articles. In 2006, a presentation co-authored by him and three other BACRT scientists received the Best Paper award out of 109 papers presented at the American Chemical Society Rubber Division meeting.
“Bill possesses a unique ability to relate to people with a variety of backgrounds such as material science, chemistry and engineering,” said Dr. Jason Poulton, manager-Polymer Development. “That skill combined with his talent for scientific innovation has made him a highly respected expert in the field of tire technology. His positive influence on staff members of all experience levels is invaluable to BACRT and to the entire Bridgestone Corporation”.