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What is PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) …a flash of genius or a lucky accident for mankind?

what_is_polytetrafluoroethylene_ptfewhat_is_polytetrafluoroethylene_ptfe - Dr. Roy Plunkett


What is PTFE?

PTFE the acronym for polytetrafluoroethylene, created quite by accident has become one of mankind’s most revolutionary inventions.  Polytetrafluoroethylene is a synthetic chemical compound best defined as any polymer, plastic or resin having the formula (C 2 F 4) n, prepared from tetrafluoroethylene — a colorless, water soluble, flammable gas.

Noted for its slippery, nonsticking properties polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is most commonly associated with cookware and products under the 1945 Kinetic Chemicals patented trademark Teflon®.  While this revolutionary chemical compound opened the door in the retail market for cookware, it has blown the doors off of industrial and technological applications.  What is so remarkable is this door of serendipity opened quite by accident at the DuPont labs in 1938.   


History of Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)

In 1938, while working for DuPont Corporation in New Jersey, Chemist Dr. Roy Plunkett was attempting to make a new chlorofluorocarbon (DuPont brand name Freon®) refrigerant.  When he and his associates were checking a frozen, compressed sample of tetrafluoroethylene  they discovered that the sample had spontaneously polymerized into this white, waxy solid form later called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).

According to the DuPont Corporation, “ PTFE is inert to virtually all chemicals and considered the

most slippery material in existence.  These properties have made it one of the most valuable and versatile technologies ever invented, contributing to significant advancements in areas such as aerospace, communications, electronics, industrial processes and architecture

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