Lead: In the history of industrial innovation, often the most profound discoveries come as accidents. Such was certainly the case with Teflon.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the years before they were considered by many to be harmful to the environment, chlorofluorocarbons, (CFCs) often known as Freon, brought a safe, efficient means of refrigeration into commercial and household use. Development of Freons emerged from a joint venture between the Frigidaire division of General Motors and the DuPont Chemical Company. Work with Freons led to the accidental discovery of Teflon. In spring 1938, two DuPont chemists were working with a promising new refrigerant, tetrafluoroethylene (TFE) combined with hydrochloric acid. As a convenience the TFE was stored in pressurized cylinders packed in dry ice. On the morning of April 6th, the chemists discovered that the TFE would not come out. When the cylinders were sawed open the interior walls were lined with a smooth, white, waxy substance. Something in the pressure and low temperature had caused the TFE to polymerize or solidify.

 

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