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Roy J. Plunkett discovers Teflon

Almost every household has utensils that are Teflon coated. It is so easy for us to cook in a pan and not worry about the batter sticking to it and all. However, as we enjoy the benefits of this magic coating, it is important for us to know about the person behind the invention of this masterpiece.

Meet Roy J. Plunkett

Roy J. Plunkett was born on June 26, 1910, in New Carlisle, Ohio. Plunkett belonged to a poor Ohio farmer family and during the Depression he attended the Manchester College. He received his bachelor's degree in chemistry from the Manchester College in the year 1932 and his doctoral degree in chemistry from The Ohio State University in the year 1936.

He was the chief chemist who was involved in the production of the gasoline additive Tetra-ethyl lead at DuPont's Chambers Works from the year 1939 to 1952. After that, he was responsible to direct Freon production at the DuPont before retiring in the year 1975.

How Plunkett Found Teflon

Roy J. Plunkett's initial assignment of his career was to find a non-toxic, non-flammable coolant that could be used in refrigerators. During one of his attempts, he discovered a slippery powder which is now called as Teflon.

Teflon's scientific name is Polytetrafluoroethylene. Plunkett discovered that the powder proved capable of withstanding temperatures as cold as minus four hundred degrees Fahrenheit and as warm as five hundred degrees Fahrenheit. He started investigating the substance. Following 10 years of investigative research, Plunkett along with the Du Pont Company introduced Teflon to the market in 1949. Since then, it has become an important coating for everything from satellite components to electric wires to cookware.

Teflon which was discovered by Roy J. Plunkett at the DuPont Company's Jackson Laboratory in 1938, was actually an accidental invention unlike other polymer products.

Plunkett's management of research, development, and production efforts at Du Pont resulted in the creation of many new fluoro-chemical products and processes which have now become widely used in the refrigeration, aerosol, electronic, plastics, and aerospace industries. Many of these are in fact considered as of critical importance to national defence.

Importance of Teflon

At first, it seemed that Teflon was so expensive to produce that it would never find a market. Its first use was fulfilling the requirements of the gaseous diffusion process of the Manhattan Project for materials that could resist corrosion by fluorine or its compounds.

Teflon pots and pans were invented after many years. The Philadelphia's Scott Medal award was presented to Plunkett in the year 1951. This was the first of many honours for his discovery and this provided the occasion for the introduction of Teflon bake ware to the public. Every guest at the banquet went home with a Teflon-coated muffin tin.

Roy J Plunkett was inducted to the Plastics Hall of Fame in 1973 and the Inventors Hall of Fame in 1985. Plunkett died on May 12, 1994 at the age of 83.

The discovery of Teflon is definitely precious as it has made cooking a much more pleasurable experience and life has become easy.

Tags :     Teflon     Roy J Plunkett    


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