Gerald Lancaster, a pioneer in developing polyolefins and adhesives, died Jan. 16 in a single-car accident while driving from Houston to Freeport, Texas.
Lancaster, 44, had served as global development director for DuPont Dow Elastomers of Wilmington, Del., since the company was formed in 1996. He had spent the previous 18 years of his career at Dow Chemical Co., primarily in its polyolefins business.
In addition to holding numerous chemical patents, Lancaster is credited with developing several product lines, including Elite polyethylenes and Affinity and Engage polyolefin elastomers — all of which were based on Dow's Insite metallocene technology.
Lancaster also worked to develop Aspun bonding fibers, Primacor adhesive polymers and other products.
Lancaster ``was recognized worldwide as a driving force in applied polyolefin research'' and ``was known for his ability to effectively combine the scientific and business aspects of product development,'' according to a news release issued by DuPont Dow.
The release also credits Lancaster with advancing the concepts of speed-based development and flexible resource allocation, processes that ``revolutionized the manner in which new technologies achieve commercial status.''
Lancaster's colleagues and peers remember him as a man who stood out in a complex and highly technical industry.
``Gerry was one of those rare professionals who enjoyed negotiating a complex business deal as much as he enjoyed inventing a new polymer,'' said Ashby Rice, DuPont Dow vice president for technology, who knew Lancaster for 17 years. ``He was a catalyst for change; he was never content to leave things as he found them.''
At the time of his death, Lancaster's No. 1 job was the commercialization of Engage and Nordel IP ethylene propylene diene monomer terpolymer elastomers, according to Rice.
Lancaster was ``an excellent team player'' who was especially proud of his Engage-based products, according to Balaji Singh, president of Houston's Chemical Market Resources Inc. consulting firm. Singh had worked with Lancaster on several research projects.
Lancaster recently had relocated to Akron, Ohio, but was visiting Houston on business when the accident occurred.
A graduate of the University of Florida and the University of Houston, Lancaster is survived by his wife, Cindy, and sons, Jason, Nicholas and Cory.