Friday, November 02, 2007


This Day in the History of Better Living Through Chemistry

On this day in 1931, the DuPont company in Wilmington, Delaware, announced it had developed the first practical synthetic rubber; first called DuPrene, it has since been renamed neoprene. The DuPont team seeking to replace natural rubber was led by Wallace Carothers, and, one of them, Gerard Berchet, had left a sample of vinyl acetylene in a jar with hydrochloric acid for over a month. Another member of the team, Arnold M. Collins, found in that jar a rubbery white substance. The HCl had reacted with the vinylacetylene, making chloroprene, which then polymerized to become polychloroprene. The new ersatz rubber resisted oil and gasoline, which natural rubber did not. It was at first an expensive synthetic rubber but it was much better than the Germans were able to produce and is still in use today.

(h/t Today in Science History)


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