December 18, 2023

Salvatore J. Monte, P.E., B.C.E,

MS-Polymeric Materials, SPE Fellow & HSM, Plastics Hall of Fame

Owner and President
Kenrich Petrochemicals Inc.

By Jordan Vitick
Plastics News Staff

For a summer job in 1957 between high school and college, Salvatore Monte worked at Kenrich Petrochemicals Inc. in Maspeth, N.Y. 

He met his now-wife, Erika, at a party when she was 16 and attended an all-girls high school and he was 17 and went to an all-boys high school. Salvatore and Erika “went steady” and that summer her father needed a worker to fill in for Kenrich plant workers taking vacations. He helped produce and package pilot runs of an aromatic resin named Kenflex A.


Monte went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Manhattan College and a master’s degree in polymeric materials from New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering.


“The Ken-React product line was invented in 1973 by Monte in an effort to come up with a better way to disperse zinc oxide in naphthenic oils to make the Ken-Zinc product. Investigation into other inorganics and fillers such as CaCO3 moved Kenrich beyond just elastomers and into the wider polymer industry,” according to a company history page on Kenrich’s website.

Today, Monte is the owner and president of Bayonne, N.J.-based Kenrich, a holder of more than 30 patents, an author of numerous technical papers and journal articles, and an active member of several industry groups. He was inducted to the Plastics Hall of Fame in 2021.


Patents and publications
Monte said his mission in life is to “teach the more efficient use of raw materials through titanium chemistry.”

“I have invented products that solve problems related to materials sustainability as testified by several thousand ACS [American Chemical Society] CAS [Chemical Abstracts Service] abstracted patents filed by others covering the full spectrum of thermoplastic and thermoset polymeric composites — from longer-lasting lipstick to more powerful yet safer plastic-bound explosives,” he said. More than 450 ACS abstracts published are “Works by S.J. Monte.”

The biggest challenge in his career was solving the “unplanned detonation of RDX/CAB propellant being used to propel the 120-millimeter tank round of the Abrams A-1A tank gun that was killing our military in the absence of enemy fire.” As part of the United States Department of Defense’s Insensitive Munitions Program, the new propellant was called LOVA, for low vulnerability ammunition.

“As a result of work with my invention titanates, two of my patents were placed under DOD Secrecy Orders for over 15 years and were approved for use in 92 successful IM programs. You learn that the periodic table applies to nitramine explosives or foamed pool floats, and the multiple material challenges present in curbside recycle are solvable applying the chemistry and physics of titanium coupling and catalysis and in situ functionalization of the inorganic and organic materials in the recycled plastics,” he said.

Monte’s other career highlights include, but are not limited to: 2015 Business Man of the Year from the Bayonne Chamber of Commerce; past president of the Society of Plastics Engineers’ New Jersey section; past chairman of the NYRG-ACS rubber division; board of governors of the Plastics Pioneers Association; lifetime member of the National Defense Industrial Association; past chair and lifetime member of the SPE Thermoplastic Materials and Foams division board of directors. 

The Salvatore J. Monte Thermoplastic Materials and Foams division scholarship offers financial assistance to undergraduate and graduate student members of SPE who have an interest in the plastics industry, specifically thermoplastic materials and foams.

His most recent patent, dated Feb. 7, protects nano-titanium surface modification of ordinary Portland cement.
“Once the metal oxides that make up the Portland cement are organotitanium functionalized, the result is: greater compression strength; efflorescence elimination; faster mix cycles; polymer compatibilization with epoxy, hydrocarbons such as oil, asphalt and plastics; prevention of rebar corrosion; more uniform cell structure in cement foam; more flexible structures for improved earthquake resistance; and the creation of ageless and beautiful concrete structures,” Monte said in a news release announcing the patent issuance.

Monte has also testified multiple times before Congress on international trade and intellectual property protection, lectured worldwide on titanate and zirconate coupling agents, and written a 340-page Ken-React reference manual with 80,000 copies distributed. 

Work hard, be consistent
To expand its efforts in sustainability, Monte said, the plastics industry should “understand that ‘recycle’ is a reverse process of taking all the complex materials and making them once again compatible in the polymer melt. The PR turns to positive results when one begins to understand the basic principles of chemistry and physics in recycle art.”

Asked what job title or role he would like to have in the future, Monte said none other than his current one. He wants to teach how to make recycling work, functionalize ordinary Portland cement to work with polymers and make more efficient use of Earth’s materials.

“You know, they say the keys to happiness are to eternalize yourself in your work. To be recognized in the [Plastics] Hall of Fame is that eternalization recognition, and that’s the satisfaction that ‘he’ wasn’t totally wasted,” Monte told Plastics News in 2021.  

“You’ve got to work hard, and you’ve just got to be consistent and persistent,” he added. “The key to success is just being there every time.”


Reprinted with permission from Plastics News. © 2023 Crain Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
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