In 1965, DuPont chemist Stephanie Kwolek set out to develop a material for tires, but she inadvertently created something five times stronger than steel. Kwolek developed aramids. The miracle fiber known as Kevlar is now used in bullet-proof vests and is credited with saving thousands of lives.
Aramids are polymers. The name stands for aromatic polyamide. Structurally aramids are similar to proteins.
Aramids are very present in security helmets, in splinter-resistant glass, and in Ballistic vests. They are used as a replacement for asbestos as a building material, for gaskets and other sealings, but also as helpers to make sails, parachutes and similar tools.
Industrial protective clothing help protect against flame and fire, electric arc flash, cut hazards, chemicals, dry particles, lead, asbestos, mold, and hazardous aerosols. For industries – oil and gas, automotive, chemical, agricultural, food processing, manufacturing, or maintenance businesses.
- protection from saws
- sports crash protection such as used in extreme biking
Meet a Materials Engineer
- Stephanie Kwolek – chemist, Du Pont, inventor of Kevlar
What’s the problem?
Sports equipment such as canoes need to be strong and light weight. New materials are being used to improve the structure and manufacturing for these products.
- Ask – What are the characteristics of the canoe? What materials have been used in the past?
- Imagine – Canoes are lightweight boats with a complex tapering shape and good load-carrying capabilities.
- Design, Build – Replacing wood frames and canvas with kevlar produces a canoe that has shape of the traditional canoe. These canoes can be manufactured rather than made by hand. The carbon and kevlar canoe is rugged and light.
- Improve –
- physical chemistry – uses physics to study chemical systems. It studies them at macroscopic, atomic, subatomic, and particulate levels. It looks at concepts like motion, energy, force, time, thermodynamics, quantum chemistry, statistical mechanics and dynamics.
- Intermolecular forces – act on the physical properties of materials, for example, plasticity, tensile strength, surface tension in liquids
- polyamide, aromatic, protein, splinter-resistant, asbestos, gasket, seal, motion, thermodynamics, energy, force, dynamics, plasticity, tensile strength
Challenges for you to work on…
- Find more uses for Kevlar and aramids.
- One Millionth Kevlar Vest – proven ballistic performance, light weight and low back face deformation, which helps manufacturers provide effective protection with greater comfort and reduced trauma for the wearer.
- Plasicity – To show the difference between the way a polymer film “necks,” or plastically deforms, compared to how a metal would plastically deform