CELLULOID

The Explosive origin of celluloid

The origin of nitrocellulose can be traced back to Germany and its war research efforts aimed at substituting gun powder and creating new kinds of explosives. Cellulose is a weakened byproduct of nitrocellulose, discovered in the USA in 1865 by John Wesley Hyatt who was seeking an alternative to ivory to produce billiard balls. While the material did not work for its intended use, it was eventually employed in the making of gas masks during WWII. By alternating a thin layer of cellulose and glass, a shatter-proof lens was created, thus saving the eyes of soldiers from explosions. The same concept was later used in the development of car windshields.Cellulose became the primary material for photographic film, accordions, combs, stylo pens, frames and other objects. It was banned in 1954 because it was highly flammable. While not as dangerous as nitrocellulose, which blows up upon impact, cellulose bursts into flames if placed in close contact with moderate heat.

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