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Ethyl Corporation

Ethyl Corporation is a fuel additive company headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. The company is a manufacturer, blender and distributor of fuel additives. Among other products, Ethyl Corporation distributes tetraethyl lead (referred to as TEL to avoid the stigma associated with 'lead'), a gasoline antiknock additive, via a marketing/sales agreement with Octel Corporation (now know as Innospec) which is the world's last remaining supplier of tetraethyl lead.


Tetraethyl Lead

Tetraethyl lead has been recognized as a contributor to soil, air and water lead pollution, and is extremely toxic to humans. Lead pollution has increased by over 625% in the past century due in large part to pollution by leaded fuel. Ethyl Corporation historically denied that tetraethyl lead poses significant public health risks in excess of those associated with gasoline itself.

Tetraethyl lead was supplied for blending with raw gasoline in the form of "Ethyl Fluid", which blended Tetraethyl lead together with the lead scavengers 1,2-dibromoethane and 1,2-dichloroethane. Ethyl fluid contained a dye which would distinguish treated gasoline from untreated gasoline and discourage the diversion of gasoline for other purposes such as cleaning.


Founded in 1923[1] Ethyl Corp was formed by General Motors and Standard Oil of New Jersey (ESSO). General Motors had the "use patent" for TEL as an antiknock, based on the work of Thomas Midgley, Jr., and ESSO had the patent for the manufacture of TEL. Since the patents affected the marketing of TEL, General Motors and ESSO formed Ethyl Corp and each owner 50%. Since neither company had chemical plant experience, they hired Dupont to operate the manufacturing facilities. After patents ran out, Dupont started manufacture of TEL on their own and Ethyl started running their own operations.

In 1962, Albemarle Paper Manufacturing Company, in Richmond, borrowed $200 million and purchased Ethyl Corporation (Delaware), a corporation 13 times its size. Albemarle then changed its name to Ethyl Corporation. It is believed that General Motors thought to divest itself of "Ethyl Corporation" owning to concern about liabilities associated with TEL. The 1962 transaction was the largest leveraged buyout until that time.

The Ethyl corporation expanding and diversifying during the 1970s and 1980s in response to the gradual decline of the market for TEL as the automotive industry shifted to un-leaded gasoline. In the late 1980s Ethyl began to spin off a number of divisions. The aluminum, plastics, and energy units became Tredegar Industries in 1989. In 1993, it spun off its life insurance company, First Colony Life, and then in 1994, the specialty chemicals business was spun off as an independent, publicly traded company named Albemarle Corporation.

In 2004, Ethyl Corporation changed its name to NewMarket Corporation, the parent company of Afton Chemical Corporation, manufacturer of lubricant and fuel additives, and Ethyl Corporation, a manufacturer and distributor of certain fuel additives, including tetraethyl lead (despite passage of the Clean Air Extension Act of 1970, 1977 and 1990).


  1. ^ Bryson, 2003

"A Short History of Nearly Everything" By Bill Bryson, Broadway Books, New York, 2003 ISBN 0-7679-0817-1

See also

Tetra-ethyl lead

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ethyl_Corporation". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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