It is with heavy hearts that Vortex announces the passing of its founder, Loren Neil Peterson. He was 87.
Peterson was very familiar to many in the bulk material handling industry. His career in dry bulk solids began in the 1950s with Salina Manufacturing, now known as Coperion K-Tron. As a mechanical engineer, Peterson developed formulas for conveying material other than flour – which was very unproven at that time. After much experimentation and analysis, he ascertained how to test a gallon-sized product sample and scale it up to a full size system. He also invented equipment for the company, including a patented “Y” type diverter valve with a coupling system and a straight-line layout to reduce pressure losses in pneumatic conveying systems.
In 1977, Peterson left Salina Manufacturing to co-found Vortex with his son-in-law, Lee Young. They developed a new type of slide gate, called an Orifice Gate. The valve was designed to sheer through flowing material, self-clean on the opening stroke, and eliminate areas of build-up through the bore. The design also incorporated a shimming system, allowing factory maintenance personnel to perform simple adjustments to sealing tolerances while the valve remains in-line.
Vortex was granted a patent on the Orifice Gate in 1980 and received the John C. Vaalar Award from Chemical Processing Magazine, judging it “a major contributor toward more efficient and effective operation of plants in the chemical processing industry.” Peterson continued to develop new products throughout the 1980s until his retirement in 1989. This included the Wye Line Diverter, Roller Gate, and Fill Pass Diverter. He was awarded his last patent for the Clear Action Gate in 1990.
Joe Walton, former chief executive officer (CEO) & president of Walton/Stout Inc., remembers Peterson’s acumen as an engineer:
“Neil was great. Nobody worked harder than him. When I left Salina, I looked everywhere for the same caliber of engineer. Unfortunately for me, he was one of a kind.”
Staying true to Peterson’s legacy, Vortex continues to focus on innovations that improve plant operations and economics. Today, Vortex’s materials handling valves and dustless loading spouts are recognized worldwide as “solutions of choice” for handling dry bulk foods, chemicals, minerals and more.