Semon 2016-12-06T05:35:22+00:00

Waldo Semon

Plasticised PVC

Waldo Lonsbury Semon, whose father was a Civil Engineer, was born in Demopolis, Alhabama, USA on 10 September 1898. He attended schools in Washington and Oregon, studied chemistry at University of Washington at Seattle where he took up a temporary teaching post in 1923 after obtaining his doctorate whilst searching for suitable employment.

He joined the chemical and rubber company BF Goodrich at Akron, Ohio in 1926 to research rubber to metal bonding and synthetic rubber.. The discovery of a method of plasticising poly(vinyl- chloride), usually known as PVC, was a by-product of this research.

Goodrich began marketing their ‘Koroseal’ line of PVC compounds in the 1930s and after World War II, PVC became one of their most important products.

Semon’s research into synthetic rubbers continued and in 1931 he discovered a synthetic rubber ‘bubble gum’ – a product on which Goodrich failed to capitalise – and in 1940 introduced ‘Liberty Rubber’ just as stockpiles of natural rubber were being exhausted by the war effort.

In 1954, Semon was appointed Director of Polymer Research at Goodrich and in 1962 Director of Corporate Forward Technology. He retired in 1963 and returned to teaching at Kent State University., Ohio. He outlived his wife, Marjorie, a fellow University student whom he had married in 1920, and died aged 100 years in Hudson, Ohio on 26 May 1999.