Teflon was Invented by Accident

Teflon was Invented by Accident 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 subsequently assigned to work on synthesizing
various new forms of refrigerant, trying to find a non-toxic alternative to refrigerants
like sulfur dioxide and ammonia. According to DuPont, in 1938, 27 year old
Dr. Plunkett and his assistant, Jack Rebok, were experimenting with one such 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 supposedly full pressurized cylinders of TFE that had previously been frozen, nothing
came out, even though by its weight, it seemed to still be full. The two then decided to investigate further
by cutting the cylinder open. Once they managed to get it open, they discovered
that the TFE gas inside had polymerized into a waxy white powder, polytetrafluoroethylene
(PTFE) resin. Ever the scientist, Plunkett then proceeded
to run tests on this new substance to see if it had any unique or useful properties. Four of the most important properties of this
substance discovered were that it was extremely slippery (one of the slipperiest substances
known to man), non-corrosive, chemically stable, and that it had an extremely high melting
point. These properties were deemed interesting enough
that the study of the substance was transferred to DuPont’s Central Research Department
and assigned to chemists that had special experience in polymer research and development,
while Dr. Plunkett was then promoted and transferred to a separate division that produced tetraethyl,
used to boost gasoline octane levels. 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 due to
the expense of producing TFE. By the 1960s, various forms of Teflon were
being used in a variety of applications, such as stain repellant in fabrics, electrical
wire insulation, and the like. It was also in the 1960s that Teflon began
being used in its most publicly known application, as a coating for non-stick pans. Today, Teflon or other brands of the same
product are also used in windshield wipers; carpets and furniture (as a stain repellant);
light bulbs; coating on glasses; in various hair products; used in semiconductor manufacturing;
automotive lubricant; igniters for solid-fuel rocket propellants; and in infrared decoy
flares, among other things. Bonus Facts:
• Dr. Plunkett’s roommate in college, Paul Flory, went on to win the Nobel Prize
in chemistry in 1974. • The Guinness Book of World Records once
listed Teflon as the slipperiest substance in existence. This has since been shown to be incorrect,
actually being the third slipperiest substance. Although, it still is the only known substance
that a gecko’s feet cannot stick to, because of Teflon’s resistance to van der Waals
forces. Van der Waals forces are the sum of the attractive
and repulsive forces between molecules. You can learn more about this in Episode #81
of this podcast: Why Geckos’ Feet Can Stick to Almost Anything
• Molecularly, Teflon is one of the largest molecules known to man and consists of carbon
and fluorine. Each carbon atom has two fluorine atoms attached. It turns out, when fluorine is part of a molecule,
it actually repels other matter. The bond between the fluorine and carbon is
also extremely strong which makes Teflon very non-reactive to other chemicals, which is
why it was used in the Manhattan Project as a coating for the valves and seals of containers
holding the extremely reactive uranium hexafluoride. • Dr. Plunkett retired from DuPont in 1975
and was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame in 1973 and eventually into the National
Inventors’ Hall of Fame in 1985. He died on May 12, 1994.

30 comments

  1. Could you please settle an argument? Premise: One shouldn't clean Teflon cookware with a scourer.
    What constitutes a "scourer"? Is it a "Brillo Pad" (steel wool with some kind of soap embedded) – or is it one of those foam blocks with a (usually green) harder layer a few millimeters thick "scourer" that come in multipacks? I can see it might be answered using the Mohs Scale. If I knew how to do that.
    Another myth I've heard is that when Teflon starts to degrade and has patches missing, cookware is no longer safe to use. Is that true and if so, why?

  2. Fluorine makes such strong bonds because no element is more electronegative- no element has a greater ability to attract electrons to itself. That's also why it's extremely reactive.

  3. Lo, these many years ago, I was a student at a small college in the Midwest. One day during Chemistry class, the professor said we had a special guest; an alumni of said college. Yes, it was in fact Dr. Roy Plunkett.

  4. You missed the most important question of all! If nothing sticks to teflon, how do they get it to stick to the pan? I've heard Dupont's answers to this question several times, and they are always evasive… Can you solve the mystery?

  5. too fuking blase why the fuking rush???? not really a good explaination of the subjectif u want kudos take ur time 2 explin we gt he time to listen BUT WE DO NOT SPEED HEAR !!! AM I GETTING TO U FUKING KLOWN ??? LIKE THE NU INGLISH?????

  6. Bonus fact: Teflon is not used in nuclear reactors. After a reactor melt down, it was discovered that Teflon does react to radiation, which causes it to break down back into TFE.

  7. Bonus Fact. W. L. Gore left Dupont and started a very successful Company manipulating Teflon for its seemingly endless uses… Ie…Goretex

  8. Bonus Fact #5: It has been discovered that teflon particles released from non-skick cookware is toxic and causes health issues so it is being phased out and replaced by ceramic copper cookware instead.

  9. Now that you know how Teflon was invented check out this video and find out the answer to the question- Who Invented the Elevator?:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fh7m06GyDQ

  10. The Microsoft anti magnetic stolen solid gold spaceship what BILL GATES came to Earth in in the year 33 BC is the Microsoft satellite. It's too fast for NASA to catch an steal

Leave a Reply

(*) Required, Your email will not be published