Modified Matter: From Chemical Marvels to Biotech and Beyond

Fromm Institute at University of San Francisco Winter term 2015 Monday 1 pm-2:40 pm

Rod Handeland,

Course Session Outline Highlights

I. Precursors to Chemical Marvels

A. Earth Evolution : Gravity, heat, pressure, climate

B. Fire, Bronze, Iron Ages: Heat, Light, Cooking, Agriculture, Metals, Civilization, Greeks, Alchemy

C. Age of Enlightenment Scientific Revolution to Lavoisier Oxygen and combustion

1. Agricola, Bacon, Harvey, Boyle, Newton, Ward

2. Diderot, Black, Harvey, Priestly, Lavoisier, Dalton, Mendeleev Table of Elements


II. 19th Century Chemical Marvels - Fro Industrial Revolution, for photography, building, cleaning, munitions

A. 1700- 1850 Textile, Steam, Metal alloy advances from Industrial Revolution

1. 1769 Watt steam power for textile machinery, 1780 Murdoch steam advances

2. 1847 Kelly open hearth; 1855 Metal alloys; 1865 Bessemer converter; 1880 Carnegie, Frick, Pittsburgh Steel

3. 1870's New concrete, glass, skyscrapers; 1886 Hall, Herlout electrolysis for aluminum smelting

B. 1777-1830 Murdoch gas plants for street lighting, home heating, steam for transportation

C. 1823 Tallow and fats to fatty acids and soaps: Chevreul, Colgate, Procter & Gamble

D. Nitrocellulose for photography, wounds, munitions, explosives, lacquer, celluloid

1. 1825 Niepce 1st Photo; 1838 Regnault Paper negatives; 1839 Daguerre silver iodide; 1840 Talbot calotype

2. 1856 Perkin Mauve dye from coal tar to German chemical firms

3. 1856 Parkes, Parkesine; 1872 Hyatt, Celluloid; Eastman, Photo film; 1889 Chardonnet, Rayon

4. 1802 Du Pont Brandywine gunpowder, 1848 Nitroglycerine, 1848 Guncotten, 1867 Nobel dynamite

E. 1839 Goodyear rubber vulcanization, 1889+ Dunlop bicycle and auto tires.

III. 20th Century Chemical Marvels - Lone Inventors to Industrial Labs

A. 1885 Pasteur Ferment, Vaccinate, Pasteurize; 1904 Ehrlich Cancer Chemotherapy; 1905 Koch bacteriology

B. 1889 Eastman/Edison - Lumiere Brothers, Celluloid Film; 1907 Baekeland, Bakelite

C. 1912 DuPont munitions to paint, polymers, fibers, chemicals; 1930 Carothers, Neoprene, Nylon

D. 1930's Petrochemical feed stocks to replace coal tar and cellulose

1. 1854 Silliman fractional distillation; 1859 Drake Titusville; 1870+ Rockefeller Standard Oil

2. 1861 Baku Caspian; 1887 Edison Swan Electric Light; 1890 Sumatra Shell; 1905 Spindletop East Texas

3. 1911-2 Standard Oil breakup, DuPont munitions, explosives split, commitment to chemicals

4. 1938 petroleum and natural gas as chemical feed stocks. 1941 Baytown Esso chemical plants


IV. 20th Century Chemical Marvels - Petrochemicals, Synthetic Fibers and Plastics

A Polyester permanent press fabrics, natural/synthetic fabric blends, detergents, surfactants

1. 1930's Cellulose based Rayon to petrochemical based Nylon polymers, War demands defer stockings

2. 1940's Butadiene styrene polymers for synthetic rubber for tires for War

3. 1945 ICI polyester, 1953 DuPont permanent press polyester clothing to blends and new fibers

4. 1954 Synthetic detergent alkylates for clothes washers

B. Floor, wall, ceiling, exterior coverings for home, furniture, office factory, transport

1. Paint and coverings: 1926 Alkyd resins for paints, 1950's Acrylic latex water based paints

2. Floor finishing after wax: 1948 water based polystyrene emulsion to synthetic water based polymers

3. Auto and industrial finishes from black varnish to high gloss durable acrylic systems

C. Thermoset and thermoplastic resins for molding, construction, light weight parts, packaging

1. Packaging and building: 1927 Polyvinyl chloride, 1936 Polyethylene, 1937 Dow polystyrene

2. 1942 Low density film, sheets to 1957 high density polyethylene plastic bottles and polypropylene containers

3. 1947 Epoxy resins adhesives, 1954 Polyurethane cushions, insulation

4. 1930 Freon refrigerant, 1943 Silicon resin lubricant, waterproof, 1948 Teflon non stick, 1965 Kelvar strength


V. 20th Century Chemical Marvels - Toxic and Sustainability Threats

A. Chemical environmental and toxic threats

1. Rachel Carson Silent Spring and DDT

2. Disasters and abuses: 1960's Napalm defoliant; 1978 Love Canal chemical dump; 1984 Bhopal tragedy

3. Ongoing toxic chemical and chlorine cleanup at waste disposal sites; movement of plants outside US.

4. Fossil fuel supply, cost, environmental, carbon emission threats.

B. Petroleum refinery ties to chemical marvel problems and sustainability

1. Oil refinery processes from thermal, to catalytic, to fluid bed cracking evolution and continuous processing

2. Steam cracking and chlorination to produce aromatic and olefin petrochemical feed stocks and products

C. Other energy modified matter: nuclear and electricity

1. Nuclear energy: 1940's Manhattan project; 1953 Atoms for Peace; Three Mile Island; Radioactive wastes

2. Electricity: 1880's power, light distribution system; 1990's renewable and fossil fuel sources


VI. Biotech and Beyond - Genetic Engineering Commercialization

A. Pioneers and pharmaceutical and health related commercialization

1. 1859 Darwin evolution; 1954 DNA, 1976 Swanson, Boyer, Cohen recombinant DNA; 2000 Human genome

2. Leading firms: 1976 Genentech; 1983 Amgen; 1987 Gilead; Others and prospects for future benefits

B. Food and nutrition pioneers and biotech life science commercialization

1. 1865 Mendel genetics; 1920 Wallace Hybrid corn; 1961 Borlaug wheat and rice green revolution

2. Leading biotech seed and food firms: 1995 Monsanto, 1997 DowAgro, 2000 DuPont Pioneer, 2001 Syngenta

C. Fuels and energy pioneers and related biotech commercialization

1. 1800 Volta battery; 1914+ UOP thermal, catalytic, fluid cracking; 1959 Noyce, Kilby IC; 1975 Brazil ethanol

2. Potentials and hopes: 2009 Exxon Venter algae; photosynthesis, solar voltaic, hydrogen, heat-pressure-catalysts


VII. Concluding Discussion on Alluring Opportunities and Daunting Threats

A. Lessons, costs, benefits and effects of chemical marvels: life quality; diversity; sustainability; global threats

B. Moral issues, risks and benefits of bio tech: health and wellness; food and nutrition; fuels and energy


Modified Matter: From Chemical Marvels to Biotech and Beyond

Biographical Reference Suggestions

Books : Title, Author, Year, Website for more information. (Also often available online, public library, Links+)


Engineers , DK Publishing, 2012.

Science , DK Publishing, 2012

Connections , James Burke, 1978.


History of International Chemical Industry , Fred Aftalion, 2005.

Petrochemicals: Rise of an Industry , Peter Spitz, 1988.

Petrochemicals in non-Technical Language , Burdick, Leffler, 2010.

Plastics: Making of a Synthetic Century, Stephen Fenichell, 1996.


Biotech 2013 - Life Sciences: Capturing Value, Burrill & Co., 2014.;


Websites with References and other online sources beyond Google search Wikipedia subject options


History of Building,

Metals, Alloys, Building material technology history.

Timeline of Agriculture and Food Technology,

Photo History Timeline Collection,

Fibers and Plastics PowerPoint slides,

Supplemental Artiles and Other Resources add February 4, 2015

Economist, Let There Be Light, Jan. 17, 2015,[value][year]=2015&category=76986

Bloomberg Businesswee, Monsanto's Battle Against GMO Haters, July 3, 2014,

SRI Chemical Economic Handbook, Now from IHS, Subscription Service,,!&innovation=chemical-economics-handbook

Mind Alive Encyclopedia Technology, Marshall Cavendish, 1984, (Last Chapter on Industry),