How Teflon was founded?

Teflon is the registered trade name of the highly useful plastic material polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). PTFE is one of a class of plastics known as fluoropolymers. 


PTFE was discovered accidentally in 1938 by a young scientist looking for something else for refrigerator development. Roy Plunkett was a chemist for E.I. du Pon t de Nemours and Company (Du Pont). He had earned a PhD from Ohio State University in 1936, and in 1938 when he stumbled upon Teflon, he was still only 27 years old. 


Plunkett's area was refrigerants. Many chemicals that were used as refrigerants before the 1930s were dangerously explosive. Du Pont and General Motors had developed a new type of non-flammable refrigerant, a form of Freon called refrigerant 114. Plunkett endeavored to come up with a different form of refrigerant 114 that would get around Frigidaire's patent control. 


Plunkett hoped to make a similar refrigerant by reacting hydrochloric acid with a compound called tetrafluoroethylene, or TFE.  One day he prepared to keep a large amount of TFE by storing the gas in metal cans with a valve release. Plunkett kept the cans on dry ice, to cool and liquefy the TFE gas. On the morning of April 6, 1938, Plunkett found he could not get the gas out of the can. To Plunkett and his assistant's mystification, the gas had transformed overnight into a white, flaky powder. The TFE had polymerized or PTFE. 


PTFE was initially expensive to produce, and its value was not clear to Plunkett or the other scientists at Du Pont. But it came into use in World War II, Du Pont provided PTFE-coated gaskets and liners that resisted the extreme corrosive action of uranium hexafluoride. Du Pont also used PTFE during the war for making nose cones of certain other bombs. Du Pont registered the trademark name Teflon for its patented substance in 1944, and continued to work after the war on cheaper and more effective manufacturing techniques.   


In the 1960s, Du Pont began marketing cookware coated with Teflon. The slick Teflon coating resisted the stickiness of even scorched food, so cleaning the pans was easy.