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Leo Baekeland

1863 - 1944

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Leo Baekeland, 1863 - 1944, was a Belgian-born American chemist, best known for his invention of bakelite, the first commercially produced synthetic polymer.

  • Nationality
  • Belgian-American

  • Subject
  • Chemistry

  • Fields
  • inventions, plastics, photographic paper

  • Distinctions
  • Known by the moniker Father of the Plastics Industry

    Perkin Medal, 1916

    Inclusion in the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Akron, Ohio

  • Posts
  • Entrepreneur and inventor, founder of General Bakelite Co.

    Professor of Columbia University

  • Publications
  • Baekeland held more than 100 patents.

  • Experiments/Discoveries
  • Bakelite: polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydrid

    Novolac: a soluble phenol-formaldehyde shellac

    Velox, the first commercially successful photographic paper

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Bakelite was the first commercial fully synthetic plastic, invented by Leo Baekeland in 1907

Baekeland is referred to as the Father of the Plastics Industry, and his invention of bakelite, in 1907, can be taken as the starting gun for the plastics industry which took the world be progressive storm.

Baekeland was a chemistry and physics professor at the Ghent University, Belgium, until 1889, when he travelled to New York. there he set up a chemicals firm and produced Velox, the first commercially successful photographic paper.

He then developed a new electrolytic cell, and other electrochemical industry applications. He then began to experiment with synthetic resins, including the reactions of phenol and formaldehyde, resulting in novolak, a substitute for natural shellac, and eventually, in 1907, bakelite.






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