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June-July : Who did invent the hydrophilic emulsifier ?

Written by Dubosc
Sunday, 15 June 2014 07:22

We have not been able to identify the true inventor of the hydrophilic emulsifier, and many are those, especially the elders of the NDT world whom we interviewed, who have failed to solve this mystery.

One of us credits Norman Henry HYAM(1) with this invention.


Norman Henry HYAM (1918 - 2000) was the Technical Director of a British company at a time when one of us was an engineer in a subsidiary of the Pechiney Group, which had the manufacturing and marketing license in France from this British company.

Norman, a chemist by training, designed not only PT and MT materials, but also many chemical specialties for: oxide removal, paint stripping, corrosion protection, cleaning, etc.

The other author of this Website credits an engineer of the aircraft engines manufacturer Rolls-Royce Limited who, seeing his wife washing dishes with Teepol®, thought it might as well work for the post-emulsified penetrants.

Editor’s note: TEEPOL®, a trademark of Shell Union Oil Corporation, is a synthetic liquid detergent cleaner, which contains, among other chemicals, sodium alkylbenzene sulfonates and sodium alkyl ether sulphate.

Its synthesis is a value-added of C 13-C 18 olefins which are by-products of paraffin cracking. These sulfonated olefins give birth to a large range of detergents.

In fact, Teepol® does not work the same way as a hydrophilic emulsifier as it has been checked(2).

Who is this Rolls-Royce Ltd’s?

- John Derek HISLOP,

- William Claud LOCKWOOD,

- Or another one?

John Derek HISLOP with Fred DYSON  filed a patent in Great Britain on January 20, 1966(3) and in France on 20 January 20, 1967 (4) concerning the foam application of the (hydrophilic or lipophilic) emulsifier.

This patent shows that the hydrophilic emulsifier existed before January 20, 1966 because "emulsifier of a controlled hydrophilic character" and "aqueous emulsifying agent" mentions are written.

Unlike Norman Henry HYAM, we have no evidence that Fred DYSON was a chemist, although we found another patent he filed on metallic naphthenates used for the cold ribbing of wires and the cold drawing of tubes made of refractory alloys(5).

John Derek HISLOP filed other patents; among them:


  • One, relating to the examination and the recording of flaws in a ferromagnetic work piece, British patent N° 934,116 applied for on May 4, 1962,
  • Another one, relating to a magnetic scavenging device for detecting the presence of magnetic particle in lubricating systems, British Patent N° 1,090,900 applied for on August 31, 1966.


William Claud LOCKWOOD applied for a patent(6) dealing with the excess penetrant removal “employing finely divided particulate material such as powdered fruit stones (e.g. powdered plum stones) or powdered nut shells (e.g. powdered walnut shells.)”

Nevertheless, the idea of the emulsifier made its way in spite of many reservations by some American PT materials manufacturers. ("What?? An "aeronautical engineer only, not even a chemist, who wants to tell materials designers what should be done?"), and by many users, again, mostly American. Since many years now, hydrophilic emulsifiers are far more widely used than lipophilic emulsifiers.

While we firmly believe that the hydrophilic emulsifier was invented in Great Britain, our searches for prior rights on the Internet did not allow us finding any British or U.S. patent application, prior to 1965, claiming the invention of the hydrophilic emulsifier.

The oldest U.S. patent we found is that of the American James R. Alburger (7) claiming for “a spray-scrubbing cleaner composition in accordance with claim 9 consisting essentially of an oil-water coupler diluted with water.” This patent refers to the British patent N° 878,751 of October 1961, the title of which is not mentioned; further, unfortunately, it is not available on the Internet.

Dear readers, we would be grateful to receive any document that can help us solve this mystery, and we thank you in advance.



(1)Pierre CHEMIN and Patrick DUBOSC, And the hydrophilic emulsifier was thought of!, September 2009.

(2)Pierre CHEMIN and Patrick DUBOSC, A dye-free hydrophilic emulsifier, Septembre 2009.

(3)John Derek HISLOP and Fred DYSON, Improvements relating to Penetrant Flaw Detection Processes. British patent N° 1,101,552 filed on January 20, 1966 and patented on January 31, 1968.

(4)John Derek HISLOP and Fred DYSON, Perfectionnements aux procédés de détection de criques. French patent N° 1,509,387 delivered on December 4, 1967 (Bulletin Officiel de la Propriété Industrielle, n° 2 of January 12, 1968).

(5)Fred DYSON and Elwyn Ronald HAYWARD, Improvements relating to the Drawing of Metals. Brevet britannique N° 887,606 filed on July 16, 1959 and patented on January 17, 1962.

(6)William Claud LOCKWOOD, Method for detecting flaws in articles. US patent N° 3,083,297, filed on January 8, 1960 and patented on March 26, 1963.

(7)James R. Alburger, Cleaning process and compositions for post-emulsifier inspection penetrants. US patent N° 3,422,670, filed on June 16, 1965 and patented on Jan 21, 1969.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 15 June 2014 16:47 )