Born to a French father and an African-American mother, Norbert Rillieux studied at Catholic schools in Louisiana before traveling to France to study at L'Ecole Centrale in Paris.
He became an expert in applied mechanics, teaching and publishing numerous papers on steam technology before returning to the United States in 1840, where he patented an evaporating pan, which improved the speed and safety at which sugar from cane and beets was refined. Plantations in Louisiana, Mexico, and the Caribbean soon adopted its use.
Rillieux is widely considered to be one of the earliest chemical engineers, revolutionized sugar processing. When life for African Americans became less tolerable in the South, Rillieux returned to France and became headmaster of the L'ecole Centrale, where he deciphered hieroglyphics.
Rillieux left behind a legacy of having revolutionized the sugar industry and changing the way the world would eat.
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