Entering the 1970s, UOP became involved in several environmental technologies. The introduction of CCR Platforming™ led to lead-free gasoline, and this was followed by the catalytic converter — both removing millions of tons of pollutants from the air every year. UOP also created the basis for biodegradable detergents using linear alkylbenzene (LAB), eliminating the foaming that had become common on rivers and lakes.
To promote lead-free gasoline during the 1970s, UOP sponsored Can-Am and Formula One teams developed by Don Nichols’ Shadow Racing team. Race fans were drawn to the team’s innovative designs, underdog status and black livery featuring a caped figure in silhouette. The Shadow racers also used UOP lead-free gasoline as a fuel, promoting the technology with every win, and proving the superiority of the fuel to conventional leaded gas.
Following President Nixon’s trip to China in 1972, UOP was invited to advise Chinese enterprises on petrochemical technologies for synthetic fibers in an effort to convert cotton fields to food production. For UOP, this marked the resumption of a decades-long relationship, returning to a country where Dubbs cracking units had been operating for nearly half a century. Due to these and other technological developments, UOP began to promote itself in advertising as “The Answer Company.”
When oil prices rose in 1973 and 1974, the industry made advancements in exploration and recovery, and UOP began a drive to expand yields from a wider range of crudes. The amount of transportation fuel that could be derived from a barrel of oil had grown steadily since the days of Clean Circulation, punctuated by UOP’s work on FCC, alkylation, the Platforming process, hydrocracking, and finally in 1971, the CCR Platforming™ process.