Patricia Billings of Kansas City, Missouri has invented one of the most revolutionary – and potentially profitable – substances in the history of the modern construction industry: a building material that is both indestructible and fireproof.
Born in Clinton, Missouri in 1926, Billings studied art at Amarillo College in Texas. Her specialty was plaster of Paris sculptures. Her detour from art into technology came in the late 1970s, when a swan sculpture, after months of work, fell and shattered. Billings, who knew that Michelangelo and other Renaissance sculptors used a cement additive to give their plaster longevity, set out to create a modern equivalent.
After eight years of experimenting in her basement, Billings succeeded, inventing a milky additive that acts as a catalyst. When added to a mixture of gypsum and concrete, it creates an indestructible plaster. But there was more: a scientist friend of Billings realized that her new material was also incredibly resistant to heat. Billings returned to her lab, and in eight more years, she had created Geobond®.
Geobond® products are so resistant to heat that after being torched with a 2,000°F flame for four hours, it remains lukewarm. Not even a 6,500°F rocket engine can make it burn. Because Geobond® is non-toxic as well as indestructible and fireproof, it is also the world's first workable replacement for asbestos.
Billings won two patents for her work, but she kept the complete recipe for Geobond® a secret. And, true to her independent spirit, she has turned down a $20 million buyout offer from a company she was worried would bury the technology. Meanwhile, contractors use Geobond®, and Billings' material never fails to impress anyone who has seen a demonstration.