Sherwin-Williams Company developed Kem-Tone when the winds of World
War II reduced the supply of petroleum, linseed oil, and other traditional
paint ingredients. Company chemists were asked to create a durable
paint that could be made with readily available substances, such
as water. They looked to the ancient Egyptians for ideas and discovered
that casein (a milk protein) mixed with varnish, water, and other
ingredients produced a paint that covered in one coat and kept its
color even with repeated washings.
was an instant hit with consumers. It dried quickly and was easy
to apply, especially when applied with another innovation: a roller.
products build wired world
Post-World War II efforts to find new applications for the by-products
of atomic energy led to the tough, high-performance materials used
to build the electronic infrastructure that is the backbone of today's
1950 government study on the by-products of nuclear reactors
and the advent of reliable, affordable electron accelerators
encouraged chemical engineer Paul Cook to believe that radiation
could be used to create new materials for industrial use.
He joined Richard Muchmore and James Meikle to found a new
company, Raychem, and a new industry based on radiation chemistry.
a precisely focused beam of radiation strikes a polymer, hydrogen
gas forms and escapes. This leaves behind chemically reactive
sites that create links along and across polymer chains. These
changes toughen polymers so they resist damage, perform well
at high temperatures, and develop "elastic memory"
return to their original dimensions when heated.
used the new technology to improve the performance of electronics
components and to make wires, cables, and tubing more durable.
of chemistry transforms gas into Hula Hoop
the legendary magician who knew how to manipulate the elements,
would have applauded J. Paul Hogan and Robert Banks, the chemists
who in 1951 transformed components of natural gas into the plastic
that made the Hula Hoop® possible
Phillips Petroleum Company charged Hogan and Banks with finding
a way to transform natural gas components so they could be
used in gasoline. Instead, they discovered polypropylene and
developed a new catalytic process for making high-density
first commercially successful fruit of Hogan and Banks' research
was the Hula Hoop, a large ring of tubing still popular among
the children of the baby boomers who made the toy a cultural
phenomenon of the 1950s. Today, billions of pounds of the
high-performance plastic are used each year in products ranging
from milk jugs to automobile parts.
Beckman pH Meter
Beckman, then an assistant professor of chemistry at the California
Institute of Technology, invented the pH meter that bears
his name to enable the California citrus industry to measure
acidity. Beckmans invention revolutionized scientific
instrumentation because it contained all the necessary components
in one unit. The pH meter was portable, and it was an example
of the early use of integrated electronic technology. Beckman
went on to found Beckman Instruments to market the pH meter
and other chemical instruments. After retiring from active
control of Beckman Instruments, he devoted his energies to
philanthropy, particularly encouraging research in molecular
and genetic medicine. (Read
Washington Carver: Chemist, Teacher, Symbol
a slave near the end of the Civil War, George Washington Carver
gained international fame as an agricultural chemist. Carver
developed hundreds of new products from peanuts, sweet potatoes,
and other crops. He also conducted experiments in crop rotation
and the restoration of soil fertility. From his position on
the faculty of Tuskegee Institute, Carver urged southern farmers
to rotate cotton with soil-enhancing crops such as peanuts
and soybeans. He reached a wide audience through the agricultural
bulletins he published and through his fame as "The Peanut
Man." (Read more).
The Columbia Dry Cell Battery
1896 the National Carbon Company (predecessor of Energizer)
introduced the sealed, six-inch, 1.5 volt Columbia dry cell,
the first battery marketed for consumer use. The Columbia,
a maintenance-free, durable, no-spill, inexpensive electrochemical
power source, immediately found use in the emerging telephone
and automobile industries. The Columbia batter also played
a critical role in the adaptation of electric current to household
devices. The mass-production of batteries made possible the
introduction of electric doorbells, burglar alarms, electric
sewing machines and the flashlight.
Because the Columbia did not break as easily as predecessors
and was economical to produce, it could satisfy many of these
consumer needs. Moreover, the technology of the Columbia,
a carbon-zinc battery using an acidic electrolyte, served
as the basis for all dry cell batteries for the next sixty
years, until the introduction of the alkaline battery by the
Eveready Battery Company (now Energizer) in the late 1950s.
Rumford Baking Powder
In the mid-19th century, Eben Horsford
a unique mixture of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and calcium acid phosphate, which he named "yeast powder"
and later called baking powder. In the presence of water, the mixture releases carbon dioxide, which leavens
biscuits, cookies, and quick breads. Later, to prevent a premature chemical reaction, Horsford introduced
starch to keep the mixture dry. Horsford and his business partner, George Wilson, established the Rumford
Chemical Works in Rhode Island to market baking powder. Rumford Baking Powder was marketed for decades using
the formula first developed by Horsford in the 1850s and refined in the 1860s.
Eben Norton Horsford was born in upstate New York in 1818 and educated at the Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute. He received his formal education in chemistry in Germany, where he studied for two years with
the noted chemist, Justus von Liebig. In 1847 he returned to the United States to assume the Rumford
Professorship at Harvard, a chair endowed by Benjamin Thompson, a physicist who fled the American
Revolution and who eventually became Count Rumford of the Holy Roman Empire. When Horsford and Wilson
began their chemical plant, Horsford chose the name Rumford, after his Harvard chair.
The Development of Tide®
Tide, the first heavy-duty synthetic detergent, debuted in 1946, the culmination of a search to replace traditional soaps, which did not clean well in hard water, where they deposited a residue of scum, or curds. Before Tide came on the market, Procter & Gamble marketed Dreft®, which represented a breakthrough because it cleaned clothes in hard water - a benefit for residents from the Midwest to the Rocky Mountains - without leaving curds. But Dreft did not clean heavily soiled clothes well. P&G chemists knew that the cleaning ability of synthetic detergents could be boosted by adding "builders," compounds that penetrate clothes more deeply to remove stains. But the builders left clothes harsh and stiff because the chemicals, usually sodium phosphates, reacted with the water's hardness to form insoluble deposits that could not be rinsed away.
After years of research, the correct formula finally was found, and P&G rushed the new product, Tide, to market. It was an instant success; its popularity was boosted by the simultaneous introduction of automatic washing machines which saved the consumer time and effort. By the early 1950s Tide captured more than 30 percent of the laundry market, and it has subsequently become the number one selling detergent every year. (Read more).