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Celebrate chemical research and the invention of Teflon in April

Teflon MoleculeWhen: April 6

What: Its proper name is polytetrafluoroethylene, but most know it as Teflon. Created in 1938, the material is most famous for its use in cookware, but it has other uses as well. Take time on April 6 to appreciate both the versatile uses of Teflon as well as the wider field of chemical engineering and research.

Background: Roy Plunkett discovered polytetrafluoroethylene accidentally while researching new chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants for Kinect Chemicals (later DuPont). The material was patented as Teflon in 1941 and was first used in machine parts for military and industrial projects. It is now also used in cookware, pharmaceuticals, aerospace technology and radiometry.

Story Pitch: Given Teflon’s wide range of uses, a number of industrial and research-based companies can pitch around its discovery. Companies can mention how they have used Teflon or derivative chemicals in the past, but focus on new uses for materials that they have developed and how this is benefiting their clients. In a similar vein, companies that focus more on chemical research should highlight their new leads and developments in materials, and how they’re working with industrial manufacturers to apply these technologies. In terms of consumer markets, Teflon has caused public safety concerns in the past, so be sure to address these issues when discussing new chemicals and their application in consumer markets. Colleges can also take this as a time to discuss degrees and careers in chemistry, with a focus on how current trends in green technology will affect future chemical research and development.

Story Hook: Trends toward green chemicals are leading industry in new directions. How are chemicals, especially green chemicals, discovered, and what determines demand for them? Keep the following in mind when making your pitch:

  • What are some other famous chemicals and their invention stories?
  • How do most modern chemical engineering companies operate? How are new chemical discoveries made?
  • What are the safety concerns associated with commercial chemicals, and how are these concerns addressed?
  • What are the current frontiers and trends in chemical engineering?

Tips: Be sure to provide contact information for chemical engineers working in research and development, as well as college chemistry professors and students.

Resources:

American Chemical Society
(202) 872-4600
newsroom(at)acs.org
www.acs.org

American Institute of Chemical Engineers
(203) 702-7660
www.aiche.org

Chemical Educational Foundation
(703) 527-6223
comments(at)chemed.org
www.chemed.org

EPA Green Chemistry
(202) 564-8740
greenchemistry(at)epa.gov
www2.epa.gov/green-chemistry

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