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A Report On Teflon: What Is Polytetrafluoroethylene

1502 words - 6 pages

Have you heard of DuPont? You probably have because DuPont is famous for a whole series of cooking pots and pans. However, before 1938, the name DuPont was fairly uncommon. After all, back then DuPont was a company working with refrigerators! So what made DuPont so famous? How did the company come up with their non-stick pots and pans? How did polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) play a part in the rise of DuPont? And what exactly is this PTFE? Well, it all comes down to synthetically prepared polymers, and in the world today, it's all about the creation of these polymers. There are many different kinds of polymers, both synthetically prepared and naturally grown. These polymers, or large organic molecules created from smaller molecules (monomers), include cotton, Kevlar, Technora, Kynar, Mylar, Nylon, Rilsan, Teflon, Ultem, Vectran, Viton, and Zylon. However, what are their differences? For example, what is different between Teflon and some other polymer? Indeed there are many differences between these polymers starting with their chemical compositions. The polymers also have different properties such as heat resistance and flexibility. In the end, it was PTFE that made DuPont famous, and Teflon was the name of PTFE coined by DuPont. So now the question is, "What is Teflon?"Teflon, PTFE, or polytetrafluoroethylene is all the same polymer, created by many carbon and fluorine molecules together. There are actually three different types of PTFE, Teflon PTFE resin, Tetrafluoroethylene Hexafluoropropylene-copolymer (FEP), and Perfluoroalkyoxy-polymers. The chemical composition of PTFE is F2C-F2C repeated with a F3C at both ends. It is created by combining many molecules of tetrafluoroethylene together through addition polymerization or free radical vinyl polymerization where the C=C is broken into a C-C . This allows many molecules of F2C to be combined creating Polytetrafluoroethylene. It is possible to produce PTFE in large quantities by combining tetrafluoroethylene gas in large containers under pressure. Surprisingly, this was the way that PTFE was originally discovered by Roy Plunkett. Roy was working with his partner James Rebok on a project to create non-toxic substances used in a refrigerator. One day, they opened up a large canister of tetrafluoroethylene gas, but no gas was visible or came out. However, when Roy weighed the canister, it was as heavy as a full tank of tetrafluoroethylene gas. Thus, when he cut open the canister, PTFE, or Teflon, was discovered! Then, DuPont further used this new polymer for its own purposes. The discovery of PTFE was one of the most influential discoveries during the 1930's because PTFE was one of the most frictionless materials known. Ironically, but like many of the great scientific discoveries, it was discovered due to mistake and serendipity.After discovering PTFE, DuPont proceeded to utilize this polymer in many products under the brand name DuPont. That was one of the reasons why DuPont became such an...

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