This is the steam pressure vessel used by Leo H. Baekeland, the chemist and inventor, to produce commercial quantities of the first totally synthetic plastic, Bakelite. It was produced by reacting phenol and formaldehyde under pressure at high temperatures. The product was a thermosetting resin which proved to be an extremely versatile substance, readily moldable and quite strong when combined with fillers such as cellulose.

The Bakelizer was used around 1909, and dubbed "Old Faithful" by its early operators. Made of iron alloys and still in usable condition, it's about 35 inches wide, 40 inches deep, and nearly 72 inches tall.

An inscription cast into the door of the Bakelizer reads "H. W. DOPP CO. BUFFALO N.Y. / USA." H. William Dopp (1824-1888) was a German machinist who immigrated to the U.S. in 1849 and, in 1878, established the H. William Dopp & Son firm in Buffalo, N.Y. William H. Dopp, Jr. (b. 1853) continued the firm.

Date Made: about 1909

User: Baekeland, L. H.Maker: H. William Dopp & Son

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Medicine and Science: Chemistry, Industry & Manufacturing


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Union Carbide Corporation, Specialty Chemicals Division

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1983.0524.01Catalog Number: 1983.0524.01Accession Number: 1983.0524

Object Name: Reaction Vessel

Physical Description: iron (overall material)cast (overall production method/technique)Measurements: each detached leg: 45 3/4 in; 116.205 cmoverall: 71 1/2 in x 35 in x 40 in; 181.61 cm x 88.9 cm x 101.6 cmvessel: 45 in; x 114.3 cmbase: 47 1/2 in; x 120.65 cmcrate: 84 in x 58 in x 59 in; 213.36 cm x 147.32 cm x 149.86 cm


Record Id: nmah_622

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