Meet Meredith Gourdine, the man who invented many devices including the electric car battery

Stephen Nartey May 04, 2023
Meredith Gourdine/Photo credit: National Academy of Engineering

Meredith “Flash” Gourdine was an outstanding sportsman in the mid-1950s. He was one of the medalists in the 1952 Olympics games, however, he is rather known in American history for his pioneering work in the invention of thermal management technology with specific reference to electrogasdynamics. Before he passed away, the physicist had at least 70 patents to his name, detailing inventions centering on the conversion of gas to electricity.

Before he became a colossus in the scientific world, there is that gainsaying his first love was sports. He competed in the sprints and low hurdles, as well as the long jump, and paid keen attention to his sports abilities when he was at Cornell University. He won four titles in the championships of the Intercollegiate Association of amateur athletes of America and five titles in the Heptagonal games.

He went down in the history of Cornell University as one of the African American students who won medals for the school. His outstanding laurel was coming out second in the 1952 Southern California National Collegiate Athletic Association championships when he represented the Cornell Five. The 1952 games were both his defining moment in sports as well as the end of that dream on the tracks.

Born on September 26, 1929, in Newark, Meredith grew up in Brooklyn with a father who was a painter and a janitor. He got firsthand experience of what it meant to work low-paying jobs when he assisted his father in painting after class. He attended the Brooklyn Tech High School. What inspired the celebrated physicist to take his education seriously was the urging from his father to either prioritize his studies or be resigned to menial jobs.

He graduated in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and enlisted in the United States Navy. His luck shined brighter in 1960 when the Guggenheim fellowship sponsored his doctorate degree in engineering science at the California Institute of Technology. After working in the private sector for four years, he decided to establish his own research and development firm.

He took a loan of $200,000 from friends to establish the Gourdine Systems in Livingston, New Jersey. This was the beginning of his great feat in science. In 1973, he established Energy Innovations to produce direct energy conversion devices.

Out of those devices, he invented the Electradyne Spray Gun, which he built to make things less stressful for artisans when they are painting unusual surfaces like bicycle frames. He also invented the incineraid, a technology built to cut down air pollution created by incinerators. Other notable inventions Meredith pioneered were the electric car battery, a system for clearing fog at airport runaways.

He also invented a system of fixing potholes by using rubber from the old car tired as well as getting oil out of shale rock, according to national geographic. Meredith passed away at the age of 69 at St. Joseph Hospital in Houston. The cause of death was attributed to multiple strokes, which were triggered by diabetes. He lost one of his legs and sight as a result of it. He was survived by a wife and four children.

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: May 4, 2023


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