Sadie Alexander

Meredith Gourdine ( 1929- 1998)

Physicist, pioneer researcher and inventor

Dr. Meredith Gourdine was born in Newark, New Jersey on September 26, 1929, and was brought up on the streets of Brooklyn and Harlem, New York.  His father worked as a painter and janitor and instilled within his son the importance of a strong work ethic. Meredith attended Brooklyn Technical High School and after classes he helped his father on various jobs, often working eight hour days. However, his father believed that education was more important than just developing into a hard worker and he told him "If you don't want to be a laborer all your life, stay in school." Meredith minded his father's advice, excelling in academics. Meredith attended Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.  In 1960, he received a Ph.D. in Engineering Science from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.

Dr. Gourdine was not only intellectual but was also an excellent athlete, competing in track and field and swimming during his senior year. He did well enough in swimming to be offered a scholarship to the University of Michigan, but he turned it down to enter Cornell University. He paid his way through Cornell for his first two years before receiving a track and field scholarship after his sophomore year. He competed in sprints, hurdles and the long jump. In 1952, Meredith was twenty-three years old and a student at Cornell he went to the Olympics. , His nickname was Meredith “Flash” Gourdine and he won the silver medal in Helsinki for the long jump. 

Dr. Gourdine was a physicist, a pioneer researcher and inventor in the area of electrogasdynamics.   Electrogasdynamics is a way to disperse fog and smoke using electrical forces a process dealing with the action of charged particles moving through a gas stream. He found that applying strong electrical force you can control these elements.

Meredith was responsible for engineering the technique termed Incineraid for aiding in the removal of smoke from buildings. His work also developed techniques for dispersing fog from airport runways.  Dr. Gourdine also developed a generator that allowed for the cheaper transmission of electricity. His work as resulted in more that forty patents based on this esoteric procedure in four areas—energy conversion, paint-spraying systems, pollution control and printing.

Dr. Meredith Gourdine built a multi-million dollar corporation that is founded on his ideas in the electrogasdynamics field (EGD). Using the principles of EGD, Dr. Gourdine successfully converted natural gas to electricity for daily use.  Applications for EGD include refrigeration, desalination of sea water, and reducing the pollutants in smoke.

Meredith Gourdine served on the technical staff of the Ramo-Woolridge Corporation from 1957-58. He then became a Senior Research Scientist at the Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory from 1958-60. He became a Lab Director for the Plasmodyne Corporation form 1960-62 and the Chief Scientist of the Aeronautical Division of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation from 1962 to 1964. It was there where he became aware of an 18th-century procedure, and developed a generator based on this principle.  In 1964, after failing to sell his ideas and his invention to his employer, Gourdine founded his own research and development company, Gourdine Laboratories, in Livingston, New Jersey, with a staff of over 150.

In 1964, Dr. Gourdine also served on the President’s Panel on Energy. As he got older Dr. Gourdine developed diabetes and eventually lost his leg and became blind. He did not allow his disabilities to deter his creative work.

In 1973, Dr. Gourdine founded Energy Innovations, Inc. of Houston to produce direct-energy conversion devices and was CEO.  In 1991 Gourdine was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and in 1994 he was inducted to Engineering and Science Hall of Fame (Dayton, Ohio). Dr. Gourdine died on November 20, 1998; he was the president of Energy Innovation, Texas until his death.

 


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