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From: (Bruce Hamilton)
Newsgroups: sci.chem,
Subject: Re: CFC development...Was: CFCs and Ozone Depletion - was Re: Wrong 
	again, Altavoz!
Date: Wed, 06 Aug 1997 10:54:10 GMT

Craig Keener <> wrote:

>Lloyd R. Parker wrote:
>  I posted no reference the second time because Bruce had already
>pointed out an article (written by Midgley himself, no less) which did
>contain the history.  Since that doesn't seem good enough, also try
>" Midgley...Saint or Serpent?? ", published in Chemtech abt. 1990.

Actually, I've been promoting George Kauffman's article
" Midgley: Saint or Serpent?" Chemtech, Decemeber 1989,
p717-725 on Usenet since I read it early in 1990, mainly
because it is so much more accessible than Midgley's work.

Many of the stories in it are based on several articles by
Midgley that are worth getting for those that really are
interested in the subject. The actual date of the discovery
isn't immediately obvious, but the 1930 paper that I cited
earlier is usually used by most people as indicating that
it was 1930, as Midgley had reported that it only took 3 days
from the original request from Lester Keilholtz ( Chief
Engineer of Frigidaire ) to Kettering.

It was also around 1930 that Midgley was also made a vice president
of Kinetic Chemicals, the competing company that also was busy
synthesising and making a wide range of organohalogen compounds.
He had been VP of Ethyl Corp. since 1924, and the fact that he was
active in two similar organisations would not have been unusual
then, as he was already renowned for TEL. There was quite a delay
between the discovery and the patenting of CFCs, which suggests
perhaps great care was being taken in drafting. It may have been made
irrelevant with the subsequent purchase of Kinetic by Du Pont.

The famous story of the five bottles of antimony trifluoride,
of which only one was free of the double salt containing water
of crystallisation which produced phosgene in the reaction
is also in the article I cited, as well as Kauffman's.

They fortuitously selected the only bottle that was pure - the
test rabbit in the bell jar survived, and so they followed up
the research. If the rabbit had died as expected by the others,
they would probably have moved on to evaluate other substances.

" From the Periodic Table to Production " Thomas Midgley, Jr.
I&EC v.29 n.2 p241-244. February 1937
- covers both TEL and CFC, and is the basis of Kauffman's
excellent article

" Organic Fluorides as Refrigerants " Thomas Midgley, jr and
Albert L. Heene. I&EC, v.22 n.5 p.542-545
- the actual article detailing the properties and advantages.

"Man-made Molecules' Thomas Midgley, Jr. I&EC v.30 n.1 p.120-122
( January 1938 ).
- also used by Kauffman, and relates the story of the five bottles,
and the incorrect data for the boiling point of CF4, and how their
prediction of the actual BP was subsequently verified.

" A Tribute to Thomas Midgley,Jr, "  Charles F Kettering
I&EC 1944 ( no pages numbers on the three pages of my copy )
- lists some of his achievements, and their relationship.

" The Chemist's View " Thomas Midgley, Jr. C&EN v.22 n.20 p.1756-1770
- his view of the future of industrial research

" Chemistry in the Next Century" Thomas Midgley, Jr. I&EC v.27 n.5
p.494-498 ( May 1935 )
- an interesting perception of what the next 100 years would bring.

There are several other papers on specific topics, such as
his interest in originality and age in "Accent on youth ", but
the above provide a good introduction. Several papers focus on
TEL, which isn't surprising given how influential it was in the
20s and 30s.

When the list of 20th century Industrial Chemists is prepared,
Midgley will be at, or near, the top. The way he made use of
the periodic table to identify which compounds to investigate
as alternative refrigerants was superb science.

One of his articles ends with a quote from Kettering " When
you lock the laboratory door, you lock out more than you lock in."

       Bruce Hamilton

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