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Jim B.
11-26-2014, 04:47 PM
About 30 years ago or so, when I was still in grade school or hs, I read this fascinating article in Discover magazine.

It seems this foreign national was in the USA taking a chemistry course. And he (English not being his first language) misunderstood the directions of his professor, and added too much of an ingredient (I don't remember what) to another ingredient (ditto).

The result was a plastic that had all the same properties of a metal.

I was fascinated at the time by the implications of this new substance. But I never heard anything about it since then. Do any of you know what I am talking about, and what became of this strange new substance?

Also, if it is any help, I remember in the article, they showed pictures of frozen glass containers. It seems they were keeping the substance frozen, to preserve it, until they found out more about it.

:):):)

ftg
11-26-2014, 05:09 PM
Not sure about the frozen part.

Conductive polymers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conductive_polymer) come to mind first. "Plastics" that conduct electricity fairly well. Checking the dates in the article there was a breakthrough in 1977 that led to a Nobel Prize in 2000.

These materials do poorly when exposed to moisture, perhaps the frozen container was actually just to keep the material from atmospheric humidity?

beowulff
11-26-2014, 05:20 PM
Maybe this?

In 1977, Alan J. Heeger, Alan MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa reported similar high conductivity in oxidized iodine-doped polyacetylene.[14] For this research, they were awarded the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for the discovery and development of conductive polymers."

Jim B.
11-26-2014, 06:00 PM
Maybe this?

Possibly. But I am fairly certain that the magazine article dates back top the 80s (perhaps early 80s, I don't know). Also, in your story, did they discover the miracle polymer "by accident"?

Canadjun
11-26-2014, 06:58 PM
Possibly. But I am fairly certain that the magazine article dates back top the 80s (perhaps early 80s, I don't know). Also, in your story, did they discover the miracle polymer "by accident"?

Teflon? I know that doesn't really have metallic properties, but for some reason I keep thinking of it (not necessarily accurately) when I try to remember what I heard way back about a new accidentally discovered polymer.

dtilque
11-26-2014, 10:15 PM
Teflon? I know that doesn't really have metallic properties, but for some reason I keep thinking of it (not necessarily accurately) when I try to remember what I heard way back about a new accidentally discovered polymer.

Teflon was an accident discovery, but it's way off in terms of time. It was discovered in the 30s, about half a century too early.

stanger
11-27-2014, 03:16 PM
I don't recall details, but sometime in the mid to late 1980s, there was a company that was making connecting rods for racing engines out of "plastic". Just what that plastic was, I don't know, but it was as strong or stronger than aluminum racing rods, but lighter and less reciprocating mass for the engine. I vaguely remember that once available to the public, they didn't hold up as well as expected - maybe the duty cycles were lower, or something - but they were tried out. I recall they were considerably more expensive than the high quality steel and aluminum rods made at the time, but that is to be expected from a new technology.

I also recall that Ford built and was racing a "plastic" racing engine around this time. The block had iron sleeves in it, and I suppose the pistons and valve springs and such were still metal, but the major engine components and castings were some sort of machinable plastic. I don't know whatever became of that, but since we don't see major plastic engine components in use today, I guess it was not the perfect technology it was originally hoped for.

Nefario
11-27-2014, 04:22 PM
......sometime in the mid to late 1980s......... more expensive than the high quality steel and aluminum rods ......

......a "plastic" racing engine around this time. The block had iron sleeves in it, and I suppose the pistons and valve springs and such were still metal, but the major engine components and castings were some sort of machinable plastic.

The racing engine attempt was by a company called "Polimotor" and their engine came to have more and more metal as it was developed. This might have been an influence on the current use of plastics in intakes and non load bearings covers.

There are no pure plastics that remotely approach the properties of metals in high temp, cyclic loading applications as in an engine.

There have been experiments with carbon fiber composite connecting rods and push rods but they usually shatter. There are Metal Matrix Composites (boron? fibers in cast aluminum - but all metal) that were outlawed for use in Formula 1.

Isilder
11-28-2014, 05:12 AM
Nylon is being used in heavy lifting jobs.. to replace steel cables and chains.

Its quite strong, for its weight. (strength divide weight... )

The benefit of nylon is that overloading one strap won't cause it to be break (at first), it will stretch out and then hold almost as much as before. The drawback is that its not elastic ..

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