Charles Goodyear is a model of the determined inventor, who struggled to find the secret to a better rubber, despite years of financial hardship and frustration.
Without an understanding of molecular structure, Goodyear could only make his discoveries by hunch and trial and error. By adding various chemicals to rubber, he discovered by accident, that sulphur and lead added to natural rubber, then treated (cured) with nitric acid, resulted in a rubber which did not break apart at temperature extremes, and was very strong yet elastic.
Charles Goodyear is a model of the determined inventor, who struggled to find the secret to a better rubber, despite years of financial hardship and frustration. Although he gained a patent for vulcanization of rubber in the USA, he failed in three litigation disputes in Britain to establish his invention a priori against two alleged imitators.
One of the first applications Goodyear experimented with were shoes made from his new rubber. He himself set up a factory to produce rubber products, including clothing, life preservers and tubing.
The Goodyear Tire and Rubber company was founded 38 years after Goodyear's death, in 1898.
(Biographies of famous scientists no. 56)
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