Deeply discouraged, he returned to his homeland in 1913, and attempted a last, desperate throw of the dice. He tried to persuade financial interests to transform a cargo ship into a floating plant, to produce iodine by treating algae right on the ocean. But this time, no one would listen. He finally gave up, bought a huge, 100-ft. yacht, the SAMVA, and made it his home, sailing around the Mediterranean, a little like Mathias Sandorf, the Jules Verne hero who had so inspired him when he was 10 years old.
On May 9, 1914, when he was 51 years of age, Paul Héroult died, a victim of typhoïd fever, snuffing out suddenly this exceptional man, the larger-than-life scientist who never looked like one.
Beyond the fundamental technique he left us, the above story provides a vision of the inspiring qualities of this remarkable man, untiring perseverance, passion, dedication to research in various domains, aluminum in particular, and finally, total confidence in the future.