Some of the most extraordinary inventions of Humanity were accidental and changed our way of life…This was the case of Teflon.
Roy J. Plunkett, was a doctor engineer who worked for DuPont trying to discover safer and non-toxic refrigerant gases.
On April 6, 1938, he believed that one more test had failed as the gases he had previously mixed (at high pressure and low temperature) disappeared.
So he sectioned the test cylinder and noticed a white, waxy substance.
The first polymerization (combination of molecules) of PTFE had accidentally occurred.
He wasn’t aware of the discovery, but he saw an opportunity in a result he wasn’t looking for, so he kept the samples.
In the following 2 years, after multiple tests with this mysterious material, he concluded that it had characteristics and properties never seen before..
– It was inert, that is, it did not react to practically any chemical element, no matter how aggressive it was.
– It was non-stick, it didn’t stick to anything and it couldn’t be stuck.
– withstood very high and very low temperatures…
– it had a low coefficient of friction… and an endless number of characteristics that made it an extremely valuable and versatile material.
In 1945, DuPont registered the patent under the name “Teflon” and in 1950 the industrialization of its production began.
All scientific discovery is the result of reflection, thought, tenacity, experimentation and development.
In this case, Teflon or PTFE joins the long list of inventions that, incidentally, have made our lives easier.
In future chapters of the blog, we will talk about the two great families within PTFE and the transformation and manufacturing processes.