- Leo Baekeland
name=Leo Hendrik Baekeland
November 14 1863
Beacon, NY, USA
Leo Hendrik Baekeland (
Sint-Martens-Latem(near Ghent), November 14, 1863- February 23, 1944) was a Belgian chemistwho invented Velox photographic paper (1893) and Bakelite(1907), an inexpensive, nonflammable, versatile, and popular plasticcite web
title=Chemical Achievers: Leo Hendrik Baekeland
publisher=Chemical Heritage Foundation
accessdate=2007-11-08] cite web
title=Time 100: Leo Baekeland
The invention of Bakelite is the beginning of the
Age of Plastics. Bakelite was made from phenol(then known as carbolic acid) and formaldehyde. These can be mixed, heated, and then either molded or extruded. The Nobel Prize in Chemistrywinning German Adolf von Baeyerhad experimented with this material in 1872, but did not complete its development. Bakelite took the industry by storm after 1907.
Bakelite was the first plastic invented that held its shape after being heated.
Radios, telephones and electrical insulators were made of Bakelite because of its properties of insulation and heat-resistance. Soon it penetrated nearly all branches of industry.
The invention of Bakelite
When asked why he entered the field of synthetic resins, Baekeland answered "to make money". His first objective was to find a replacement for
shellac(made from the excretion of lac beetles). Chemists had begun to recognize that many of the natural resins and fibers were polymers. Baekeland began to investigate the reactions of phenol and formaldehyde. He first produced a soluble phenol-formaldehyde shellac (called "Novolak" that never became a market success). Then he turned to developing a binder for asbestos, which at that time was molded with rubber. By controlling the pressure and temperature applied to phenol and formaldehyde, he could produce his dreamed-of hard moldable plastic: bakelite. The official name of Bakelite is polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride.
Decline and death
As Baekeland got older, he became more eccentric, getting into fierce battles with his son (and presumptive heir) over salary and other issues. He sold the General Bakelite Company to
Union Carbidein 1939, and at his son's prompting, he retired. He became a recluse, eating all of his meals from cans and becoming obsessed with developing an immense tropical garden on his Florida estate. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage in a sanatorium in Beacon, New York. Baekeland is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemeteryin Sleepy Hollow, New York[ [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7704571 Find A Grave Memorial: L. Baekeland] ] .Leo Baekeland was the grandfather of Brooks Baekeland, whose wife Barbara Daly Baekelandwas murdered by their son, Antony in 1972.
Baekeland told "The
Literary Digest": "The name is a Dutch word meaning 'Land of Beacons,' " Funk & Wagnalls, 1936.)
* [http://www.chemheritage.org/classroom/chemach/plastics/baekeland.html Chemical Achievers: Leo Hendrik Baekeland]
* [http://www.time.com/time/time100/scientist/profile/baekeland.html The Time 100: Leo Baekeland]
* [http://juliensart.be/bakeliet Virtual Bakelite Museum of Ghent 1907-2007]
* [http://www.bakelitemuseum.de A virtual Bakelite museum with a short biography of Leo Baekeland]
* [http://www.baekelandfonds.com The Baekeland fund]
* cite encyclopedia
last = Farber
first = Eduard
title = Baekeland, Leo Hendrik
Dictionary of Scientific Biography
volume = 1
pages = 385
publisher = Charles Scribner's Sons
location = New York
isbn = 0684101149
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