Jogendra Kumar Chowdhury obtained his DPhil degree (1924) from the University of Berlin, Germany. His specialization was in industrial chemistry. He was Chief Chemist, Assam Oil Company, Digboy (1916-20); Reader, Professor and Head, Department of Chemistry, and Dean, Faculty of Science, University of Dacca, now in Bangladesh (1925-47); and Head, Department of Chemistry, Bose Institute, Kolkata.
Academic and Research Achievements: Chowdhury's researches covered various fields such as cellulose, chemistry of coal, oil and fats, preparation and properties of mixed absorbents and recovery of sulphur from sulphur-bearing minerals. Chowdhury worked to improve the quality and yield of some of our core productions, e.g, removal of sulphur from our petroleum or coal resources, improve quality of our jute products; and to effect the recovery of useful substances from common, cheap or waste materials, e.g. activated charcoal from rice husks. He paid attention to disposal and utilization of polluting wastes such as sulphur from coal discards and thrown-away sulphur dioxide, recovery of phenol from waste industrial water, fuels and fertilizers from municipal sewage, fuel and food from forest residues, rare elements from metallurgical slags etc. Dr Chowdhury discovered a very significant method in which ClO2 was used to remove lignin completely without any effect on the cellulose. He also initiated work on impregnation of jute yarns with synthetic resins to improve their wet strength and water resistance. He showed that most of the sulphur compounds could be satisfactorily removed by aerial oxidation using alumina-gel as adsorption catalyser. The adsorption capacity is considerably increased if activated charcoal or silica gel is mixed with it. He introduced a new method, pyridine-permanganate method, for the characterization and estimation of commonly used oils, such as olive oil, coconut oil, ground nut oil, ghee etc., even in mixtures. His attempts to produce lubricating oil from polymerization of unsaturated acids in presence of SnCl4 also succeeded. He showed that pretreatment of the coal with NaCl, MgCl2, ZnCl2 and best of all, steam-ammonia, would remove most of the sulphur during carbonization.
Other Contributions: The School of Cellulose Research in University of Dacca owed its success largely to Chowdhury's initiative and personality.
Awards and Honours: Chowdhury was President, Chemistry Section of Indian Science Congress (1950).