Concrete Chemistry Pioneer Bill Hime Is Dead at 91
William G. "Bill" Hime, one of the nation's first and premier experts in cement chemistry and a pioneer in failure analysis of concrete and construction materials, died on June 6 in Glenview, Ill. He was 91.
The death of the former senior principal of structural and forensics engineer Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc. follows by just 10 days that of the Illinois firm's former president John M. Hanson.
Hime joined Wiss, Janney in 1984 with its acquisition of Erlin, Hime Associates, which he had co-founded 12 years earlier with Bernard Erlin. It specialized in chemical and petrographic analyses of construction materials.
The chemist had previously been a chemistry assistant professor at Louisiana Tech University and also laboratory chief and manager of chemical and petrographic research at the Portland Cement Association.
Among other things, while at Erlin, Hime, he was widely consulted to offer analysis on the use of Sarabond as a concrete mortar additive that was linked to masonry cracking, according to a March 1986 ENR article.
Hime said the Sarabond leached out chloride ions when in contact with unprotected steel in a building, which, in turn, had accelerated corrosion. He said excessive buildup of rust pushed outward on the masonry, eventually cracking and displacing bricks.
In a 1983 article related to ongoing litigation, The New York Times said Sarabond had been used in about 2,000 buildings.
Hime published more than 100 professional articles in books and magazines and received numerous industry group awards. He remained a Wiss, Janney principal until he was 81 and "was a champion" in cement burn prevention, said the firm.
"When there was a need for analytical work, [Hime] enthusiastically beamed when he did hands-on 'wet chemistry' to get data that more [sophisticated] instrumental methods would miss, or not be as accurate," said former partner Erlin in a 2007 interview in Concrete Construction magazine, referring to him as "one of the greatest chemical and technological minds of our industry."