Bernard Behrend


Bernard Behrend
Death date
Associated organizations
Allis-Chalmers, Westinghouse Electric Corporation


Bernard Arthur Behrend was born in Villeneuve, Switzerland, May 9, 1875. He was educated by tutor and studied at the Polytechnic Institute and the University of Berlin. In 1895 he was assistant to the late Gisbert Kapp and in 1896 he became Assistant Chief Engineer to the Oerlikon Company in Switzerland. Thence he came to the United States in 1898, subsequently becoming non-resident lecturer at the University of Wisconsin. In 1899 he became connected with the Bullock Electric Mfg. Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio, as Chief Engineer of its alternating-current work and later, as Chief Engineer of all its plants in the United States and Canada. In 1904 the Bullock Company became allied with the Allis-Chalmers Company and Mr. Behrend became Chief Engineer of the electrical departments of this country, establishing the department in Milwaukee for the manufacture of large units. At the end of 1908 the receivers of the Westinghouse Company engaged Mr. Behrend and members of his staff to take charge of the power engineering department at East Pittsburgh. Remaining connected with these interests for eighteen years, he devoted himself to general consulting work in Boston.

In 1896 Mr. Behrend published his first paper on the circle diagram of the induction motor, which has since been generally adopted in the form in which he first gave. It formed the subject of his Wisconsin lectures in 1899 which were published later in book form under the title "The Induction Motor,"—a short treatise on its theory and design. Translations of this book appeared in French, German, and, in sections, in Japanese.

In 1897 he developed the theory of the regulation of alternators under inductive loads and urged its adoption for purposes of standardization. This is now generally adopted as first proposed by him, though sometimes known under the name of the "Potier" method; a paper before the Institute described the method, with recommendations for standardization. Among other contributions are his Institute papers on the mechanical forces in dynamos caused by magnetic attraction, elementary theory of surges on long lines, the testing of alternators by splitting the field circuit, the proposal, in 1907, to wind electric generators for 22,000 volts or more, and the demonstration of the feasibility of this voltage on 100-kw. generators. In 1902 Mr. Behrend introduced the radial-slot cylindrical turbo rotor type with chrome nickel end rings which is now generally used by all manufacturers of turbo generators. The Bullock Company, jointly with Hoovens, Owen & Rentschler, exhibited a 1000-kw. unit of this type at the World's Fair in St. Louis, in 1904. The unit received a grand prize and Mr. Behrend a gold medal. The largest power unit of the exposition, a 3500-kw. generator driven by an Allis Chalmers engine, was also designed by Mr. Behrend and it secured for itself the name of the 'Old Reliable," as it was always functioning when other units were out of commission.

Between 1900 and 1908 Mr. Behrend designed the electric generating units for the Kern River Power Company, the Pacific Electric Company, the Denver Gas & Electric Company, a large group of units for Niagara Falls, the receiving plant of frequency changing units at Montreal, linking the Shawinigan Water & Power Company with the power plants at Montreal, the steam turbine units of the Brooklyn Edison Company and Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company, at that time the largest and fastest of their type. The large gas engine driven units of the Carnegie Steel Company, of the Illinois Steel Company, and of the Indiana Steel Company at Gary, Indiana, were designed by him, representing of the pioneer installations of the world. All necessary calculations for the conditions of parallel operation were carried out by Mr. Behrend, leading to the adoption of very light flywheels of about one-half the moment of inertia demanded by the engine builders.

In 1909 Mr. Behrend introduced the radial slot rotor into the Westinghouse Company and he developed the plate rotor construction now adopted by the Westinghouse Company for its largest sizes of turbo rotors. It was a revolutionary type devised for the purpose of overcoming the defects of large forgings and castings.

Devoted to engineering education in 1901 he started the first engineering training classes at Cincinnati, under Mr. A. G. Wessling. Among his well-known associates have been A. B. Field, who did his work on eddy currents in large slot-wound conductors in Mr. Behrend's office; C. J. Fechheimer, now research engineer for the Westinghouse Company; Messrs R. B. Williamson, Bradley T. McCormick, C. W. Johnson, Alexander Miller Gray were all trained in his office; Mr. F. D. Newbury was his assistant in Pittsburgh.

Mr. Behrend has taken out over eighty patents, mostly assigned to the Allis-Chalmers and Westinghouse Companies. Behrend served on numerous AIEE committees, including the AIEE Committee on Standardization (1904), the Standards Committee (1908, 1920-1921), the Power Station Committee (1910), the Code of Principles of Professional Conduct Committee (chair, 1912), the Code Committee (1913), Special Committee on the Organization of Technical Committees (1913), the Edison Medal Committee (1915-1917, 1921-1926), the Meetings and Paper Committee (1917-1918), the United States National Committee of the International Electro-Technical Commission (1917-1923), the Electrical Machinery Committee (1917-1926, chair 1919-22), the Library Board of the United Engineering Society (1918), the Rotating Machinery DC Standards Subcommittee (1920), the Rotating Machinery AC Standards Subcommittee (1920-1921), the Prime Movers, Generator Units, etc. Standards Subcommittee (1920-1921), the Research Committee (1921-1922). He was the first Chairman of the first AIEE Cincinnati Section from 1904-1905, and he served three years as a Manager of AIEE (Aug 1, 1913 - Jul. 31, 1916), and two as a Vice-President of the AIEE from August 1, 1916 to July 31, 1918.

In 1912 he received the John Scott Medal for improvements on high-speed electric generators. He was a member of the ASME, the ASCE, and the Franklin Institute; a Fellow of the AIEE (Associate, Jan. 24, 1900; Fellow, Oct. 11, 1912), the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Behrend committed suicide on March 25th, 1932, after a lengthy period of illness.