Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Invention of cellulose acetate

The acetate of cellulose was first prepared in 1869 by the French chemist Paul Schutzenberger by reaction of cellulose with acetic anhydride.

The reaction was not easy to carry out, and it was not until 1894 that it was found that the reaction could be greatly facilitated by the use of sulfuric acid as catalyst. The product was the triacetate, in which each of three hydroxyl groups of the glucose rings of cellulose are acetylated.

In 1904 George W. Miles, an American chemist invented cellulose acetate as a safer alternative to celluloid. Cellulose acetate finds use as a synthetic fiber but has very steep competition from other polymeric fibers epically polypropylene and polyester fibers.
Camille Dreyfus
In 1905 Swiss chemist Dr. Henry Dreyfus furthered this work and created cellulose acetate, less flammable thermoplastic than Hyatt’s celluloid, and produced a ‘dope’ of cellulose acetate dissolved in acetone. The primary use of this dope at the time was for the wings of fighter aircraft used in the 1914-1918 war.

Henry later launched a business with his brother, chemist and industrialist Camille Dreyfus.

Used in injection molding, the material they made took shape as food packaging, refrigerator dishes and trays, egg cups and place mats.
Invention of cellulose acetate

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