In Memoriam: Richard Burlingame

Cleveland metallurgist spent decades in the scrap industry.

March 5, 2014
Recycling Today Staff
Auto Shredding Personnel

Retired metallurgist Dr. Richard Burlingame, who was an early auto shredding researcher, died in January at the age of 83. Burlingame spent the later decades of his career and his retirement in the Cleveland area.

Burlingame worked for Cleveland-based Luria Bros. Inc. (now part of PSC Metals) from 1961 to 1986 and in the 1960s helped that company develop its auto recycling and shredding technology. The research was in reaction to steel mill resistance to No. 2 auto bundles. “Everything in that car got baled together—including plastics and glass,” Burlingame said of the bundles in a 2002 interview with Recycling Today. “There was no mystery or conniving or dishonesty. Everyone knew what a No. 2 auto bundle was. Steel mills bought them cheap and used them for decades.”

In his interview with Recycling Today, Burlingame recalled working from a Luria Bros. Brooklyn, N.Y., location in the 1960s experimenting with a system to burn away undesirable portions of automobile hulks. “The idea was to burn everything that would burn (plastics, textiles, rubber) to get an improved melting yield,” he commented.

Ultimately, Luria Bros. adopted the shredding technology developed by the Prolers and other auto shredding pioneers. Burlingame continued to research ways to upgrade and use lower grades of scrap for their iron content.

Burlingame is survived by his wife, Thon Alicia-Burlingame, two sons and two step-sons.