Skip to comments.Stephanie Kwolek, Kevlar inventor, dies at 90
Posted on 06/21/2014 6:04:54 AM PDT by Innovative
Kwolek, who died Wednesday at 90, was a DuPont Co. chemist who in 1965 invented Kevlar, the lightweight, stronger-than-steel fiber used in bulletproof vests and other body armor around the world.
A pioneer as a woman in a heavily male field, Kwolek made the breakthrough while working on specialty fibers at a DuPont laboratory in Wilmington. At the time, DuPont was looking for strong, lightweight fibers that could replace steel in automobile tires and improve fuel economy.
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What a huge difference Kevlar made and is still making.
“Rest in peace, Stephanie Kwolek. Thank you for inventing Kevlar and saving Soldiers’ lives,” the U.S. Army tweeted Friday evening.
The Kevlar lady.
Ironically, a truly superb application for Kevlar was stopped dead in its tracks, and basically forbidden.
In the 1960s, Phillips 66 had the idea of making giant rolls of Kevlar, which would be laid down on road bed before the asphalt. The road would then remain smooth and be free of cracks and potholes for perhaps 20 years. It would be more expensive, but save a lot of money by not needing frequent repairs.
However, it would have put the vast majority of paving companies in the US out of business. A very profitable business. So as a group they went to state legislatures demanding that this method of paving be prohibited. And while lobbying alone wouldn’t make the sell, they had lots of organized crime connections to close the deal.
And still... why isn’t it showing up in private paving projects? If it could strengthen many a parking lot, etc., against becoming decrepit? This is one of those conspiracy stories that sounds TOO facile. Maybe the stresses of being embedded in a mix of asphalt and cement were too much for even Kevlar.
Margarine was outlawed for decades.
Graduated from Carnegie Mellon in 1946.
Margarine is still outlawed in my home.
Uses of textile reinforced materials, concretes are extensively increasing in modern days in combination with materials science and textile technology. Bridges, Pillars and Road Guards are prepared by kevlar or jute reinforced concretes to withstand vibrations, sudden jerks and torsion (mechanics).
Discussion on mixing Kevlar fiber in asphalt
Because it’s not NICE to fool Mother Nature.
We always called it oleo.
Thank you, Stephanie Kwolek. RIP.
Fitting that a woman should invent an impenetrable substance. Similarly, a woman developed the most powerful contraceptive known to mankind — wedding cake.
Rough roads. It’s not your fault. It’s not my fault. It’s the asphalt...
Rest in Peace, Helmet Mom!
Interesting story. So many things we take for granted in the modern world, but someone had to invent each and every one!
Not enough. I’d truly prefer if they just talked more about these women as mainstream pioneers, rather than hyping their supposed victimhood in the male-dominated workplaces they excelled in.
Back in that time, there was a woman’s college (Margaret Morrison Carnegie College) and that is the school that Kwolek graduated from. Without today’s PC fanfare (look it’s shiny! Google is donating 50 gazillion and Chelsea Clinton is the spokes celeb to get girls to learn to code! yippee).
My point is there HAVE ALWAYS been opportunities for women in hard sciences if they had the skill set and desire to make the CHOICE to explore the opportunities.
Now, I live in the Pittsburgh area, yet I first read about Stephanie Kwolek helping one of my kids do a science report. What stunned me is what a PROFOUND contribution her discovery made to the world, YET the “local” female scientist who is “celebrated” (and even has a damn bridge named after her) is Rachel Carson. Wrap your mind around that!
May she RIP knowing she made the world a better, safer place, and may her memory be honored by her story being taught to future generations of budding scientists.
Well said! No one is preventing anyone from pursuing a job or a degree in any field of study. Libs act like there’s some conspiracy to keep women out of hard sciences.
Thanks for the ping. May she rest in peace.
“Margarine was outlawed for decades.”
Yeah, I remember as a kid right after WWII we had margarine that came white in a bag with a capsule of yellow coloring that you had to break and kneed into the white mass. This was how the margarine producers initially got around the butter lobby and their anti-competitative laws.
Here in CA they have been using Kevlar reinforcement in asphalt overlay jobs for years.
Due to union electricians, San Francisco still will not allow Romex wiring. It has to be conduit or BX, and for years paint rollers were illegal in SF thanks to the union painters.
NYC still bans Romex, but half the drivers are unlicensed illegal aliens.
Thank God for this hero!