How Teflon Went From Wartime to Dinner Time


Polytetrafluoroethylene is not going to dissolve in acetone or ether or concentrated sulfuric acid. When Roy Plunkett first discovered it coating some storage canisters in 1938, he tried to destroy the substance with nearly each approach recognized to science. A younger worker at DuPont, Plunkett had been employed to develop a brand new refrigerant. But when he cooled and compressed a gasoline he was testing, a waxy white powder unexpectedly shaped—that stuff he couldn’t eradicate. The materials was delivered to the eye of US Army normal Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project, who commissioned DuPont to design a plant that used polytetrafluoroethylene seals and gaskets. (The noxious chemical substances wanted to provide weapons-grade uranium corroded just about each different materials.) When Plunkett’s invention was ultimately declassified after the battle, DuPont gave it the consumer-friendly identify Teflon and located a use extra suitable with Cold War capitalism: coating pots and pans. The motive your omelet doesn’t persist with Teflon is expounded to the fabric’s imperviousness to these A-bomb elements. PTFE is a polymer—an extended chainlike molecule—product of carbon and fluorine atoms. The fluorine bonds so strongly to the carbon spine that different atoms can’t break in, in order that they merely slide throughout the floor. In reality, the most important problem is getting Teflon to stick to the pan itself. The particulars of that course of are held as carefully because the nuclear codes.

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