Tige en PTFE: The Happy Accident You Use Every Day

When I reference the abbreviation Tige en PTFE, chances are you might not think about what it really stands for. For any typical person, their first guess might be “poor teacher feeling exhausted” or perhaps “proud ticklers fighting exhortation”. Chances are, the last thing (the non-scientifically minded) would come up with is polytetrafluoroethylene. That’s right, sound it out: polly – tetra -floro – ethel – een.

Polytetrafluoroethylene, otherwise known as PTFE, is a happy accident that you frequently benefit from without even knowing it. When it comes to PTFE, you’d surprised by how often you use it without thinking. Typically, this is when you take advantage of PTFE wire. But before learning what that is, you might need a quick history lesson on what PTFE is in the first place.

In 1938, a New Jerseyan by the name of Roy Plunkett accidentally invent PTFE. When he was trying to make a new chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerant. Which would typically referred to as “freon”, the trade name for such a substance. As the story goes, the tetrafluoroethylene gas stopped flowing before the bottle’s weight indicated that the bottle was “empty”. Naturally, Plunkett was curious as to why the bottle suddenly had weight that it shouldn’t. Eventuallly, he saw the bottle in hald and found that it was coat with a white and strangely slippery material. It turns out that the chemicals in the bottle had been polymerize when the iron from the inside of the container acted as a catalyst. Shortly after, in 1945 — polytetrafluoroethylene was know by the trademarked named,”Teflon”

One of the material’s first uses was in the Manhattan Project, where scientists endeavored to engineer the first atomic bomb. In this application, it was use as a coating for valves and seals on the pipes in uranium enrichment plants that would eventually provide the uranium need for the bomb. Years later, PTFE was use for a much more domestic purpose when a French engineer create the first pan coated with it. Because of PTFE, non-stick pans are possible.

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