Born Feb 14 1878 - Died Jun 11 1936
Vinyl Derivatives of Acetylene and Method of Preparing the Same
Patent Number(s) 1,811,959
Rev. Julius Nieuwland, C.S.C., was the inventor of the first synthetic rubber, neoprene, manufactured by the DuPont Company. His work with acetylene also led him into a collaboration with scientists from DuPont. Working with them, he found that if monovinylacetylene were treated with hydrogen chloride and the resulting chloroprene polymerized, neoprene would result. Eventually, neoprene was put on the market in 1932 by DuPont under the brand name Duprene.
Neoprene was considered superior to rubber in many ways such as in its resistance to sunlight, abrasion, and temperature extremes. These properties made it popular in many industries. For instance, neoprene is favored for electrical cable insulation, telephone house-to-house wiring, many moulded, extruded, and sheet products, rug backings, and roofing.
Nieuwland was born of Flemish parents in Hansbeke, Belgium and immigrated as a youngster with his family to South Bend, Indiana. Nieuwland was a professor at the University of Notre Dame and a priest of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. He graduated from Notre Dame in 1899, studied for the priesthood and was ordained in 1903, and received his Ph.D. from Catholic University in 1904. He taught botany for a number of years at Notre Dame, and in 1918 he became a professor of organic chemistry. During this time, he worked with acetylene; his discovery of a reaction between acetylene and arsenic trichloride eventually led to the development of the poison gas lewisiteused in World War I.