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How was it Invented? Series- Teflon

  • The man who accidentally invented Teflon was Dr. Roy Plunkett.
  • After receiving his BA, MS, and eventually PhD in organic chemistry, Dr. Plunkett took a job with DuPont, in Jackson New Jersey.
  • He was assigned to work on synthesizing various new forms of refrigerant, trying to find a non-toxic alternative to refrigerants like sulfur dioxide & ammonia
  • 27 year old Dr. Plunkett and his assist, Jack Rebok, were experimenting with a potential alternative refrigerant, tetrafluorethylene (TFE).
  • Dr. Plunkett subsequently created around 100 pounds of TFE and stored the gas in small cylinders.
  • On April 6, 1938, upon opening the valve on one of the pressurized cylinders of TFE nothing came out, even though by its weight, it seemed to still be full.
  • Plunkett then proceeded to run tests on this new substance, it was extremely slippery, non-corrosive, chemically stable & an extremely high melting point.
  • Three years later, the process and name of Teflon were patented and trademarked.
  • Four years after that, Teflon first began being sold, initially only used for various industrial and military applications.
  • It was also in the 1960s that Teflon began being used in its most publicly known application, as a coating for non-stick pans.

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