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July, 2020


www.us-tech.com


Born in War, Indispensable in Peace — Clariant Humidity Indicator Cards


By Justin Mueller, Head of Business Group CDP, BL Adsorbents, BU Functional Materials, Clariant Cargo & Device Protection


was forced to retreat southward from the Philippines, through Indonesia toward Australia. In the face of overwhelming Japanese strength, the fleet had to fight with what it had — a dozen cruis- ers and destroyers, mostly relics of World War I. Lieutenant Commander Welford C. Blinn,


I


the commanding officer of the USS Pope, was con- cerned about how their ammunition supplies would perform in action, after long exposure to tropical humidity and corrosion. He got his answer when, after a


desperate fight with superior enemy forces in the Java Sea, the Pope and two other ships were sunk on March 1, 1942. After surviving for more than two days adrift, Blinn and his crew were captured by the Japanese and sent to POW camps. Within months, half of the Asiatic Fleet had been lost, with crews either killed or taken pris- oner.


Blinn, whose service on the Pope


earned him three Navy Crosses and his crew the Presidential Unit Citation, survived captivity and returned to the United States in 1945. Upon return, he resumed his career at a Navy research laboratory in the Pentagon, in Washington D.C. At the laboratory, Blinn devel-


oped what he wished he had years before — the first color-changing, “go/no go” humidity indicator. When built into ammunition cartons or cases, as they are today, these simple “button” indicators would tell future crews whether ammunition had been exposed to damaging levels of rela- tive humidity during transport or storage.


Patented Humidity Indicators After retiring from the Navy,


Rear Admiral Blinn moved his family to Colton, California, where he launched the Humidial Company in 1948. He patented an improved humidity indicator in 1955 and pro- ceeded to develop new commercial and military humidity indicator but- tons and cards that proved to be reli- able, versatile and easy to use. In doing so, Blinn pioneered a new industry with global applications. Within three years, Humidity


indicators had been adopted for use by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, the U.S. military, and within the NATO military alliance. Soon, word began to spread to civilian businesses and industries interested in long-term protection or shipping products inter- nationally. It was only natural that compa-


nies involved in manufacturing desic- cants would begin to take an interest in Blinn’s growing company. Desiccants are natural or syn-


thetic compounds that adsorb and hold moisture, keeping products dry. Humidity indicators, which validate that products are maintained in a dry condition, are a sensible complement. Eventually, Humidial was


acquired by a desiccant manufactur- er, Süd-Chemie Performance Packag - ing, shortly after Blinn’s death in 1989. The latter became part of Clariant when it was acquired itself in 2011, creating the Clariant Cargo & Device Protection business group, based in Colton, California, and


Humidity indicators, buttons and cards.


n early 1942, following Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and its push to occupy much of the South Pacific, the small U.S. Asiatic fleet


Belen, New Mexico. Today, the Humidial indica- tor, now known as the Clariant Humitector™ brand, is at the core of an entire family of humidi- ty indicator products, as well as a full line of desic- cant products. While many things have changed for this


business unit over the past 70 years, a family member remains at the helm. This is Michelle Martin, the granddaughter of Rear Admiral Blinn, who, as a longtime employee, is as proud of the organization’s latest patented invention — the Humitector Type 2 non-reversible humidity indi-


Continued on page 51


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