Sidney Loeb

Professor, Ben-Gurion University

'The great Professor Sidney Loeb'; 1960 co-inventor of the first RO membrane.

Sid Loeb – Tom Pankratz
Sid Loeb – Tom Pankratz

Sidney trained in chemical engineering and worked in the petrochemical, rocket and nuclear industries before returning to academia at UCLA in 1958. In the course of his Master's degree, he helped develop the Loeb-Sourirajan reverse osmosis membrane; he continued to a PhD in 1964.
In 1967 he went to Israel to lecture and research on reverse osmosis membrane technology at the Negev Institute for Arid Zone Research, later incorporated into Ben-Gurion University, where he worked until 1986. He had emigrated to Israel in the interim. His research led to a patent on pressure-retarded osmosis in 1975. He died in 2008.

While I was at BGU, a European scientist was invited as a university guest. I was recruited to meet him at the airport. Since I don't drive, my plans were we would return by bus. Sid didn't think this showed proper respect and volunteered to drive. Since he did not want to take away the honour of hosting, he suggested he be introduced as 'Sid' and I sit in the back with the guest while he drove.

As soon as we left, the VIP said he had one request during his visit: 'Could you arrange for me the honour of meeting with the Great Professor Sidney Loeb?'

I told him I could arrange it much sooner than he could imagine!
Dr Bob Weintraub

Like Dick Smith, Sidney is remembered for playing tennis as well as more professional achievements.