Chelsy Xiong // Blog Post #1 Polytetrafluoroethylene
Discovered accidentally by Roy Plunkett working for Du Pont in 1938 it is one of a class of plastics known as fluoropolymers and its registered trade name is Teflon. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is polymerized from the chemical compound tetrafluoroethylene which is synthesized from fluorspar, hydrofluoric acid, and chloroform. It was first marketed as a coating for metallic and mechanical parts, but later started to be marketed for coated cookware. PTFE is stable at low temperatures and has a very high melting point, because of this it can only be dissolved by hot fluorine gas or certain molten metals. It is extremely resistant to corrosion and is also very slick and slippery. That fact made it, “the perfect material for coating machine parts which are subjected to heat, wear, and friction, for laboratory equipment which must resist corrosive chemicals, and as a coating for cookware and utensils”.
Non-stick frying pans, to create stain-resistance fabrics, carpets, wall coverings, and as weatherproofing on outdoor signs. A fiberglass fabric with PTFE coating serves to protect the roofs of airports and stadiums. PTFE can be weaved into the fibers of socks to create low friction and lessen blisters. An electrical insulator because of its low electrical conductivity. Data communication cable insulation as well as medical applications, such as in vascular grafts.
Although PTFE is considered non-toxic it still produces toxic byproducts such as hydrofluoric acid and carbon dioxide. Although some waste created during the manufacturing process can be reused the used PTFE parts should be buried in landfills and only landfills because there was a study that claimed that there is a substance in PTFE that when degraded is toxic to plants. If incinerated it will release hydrogen chloride and more toxic substances.
DAVID A. BENDER. “PTFE.” A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition. 2005. Encyclopedia.com.
“Teflon.” How Products Are Made. 2002. Encyclopedia.com.