Mr. Cellophane


I had another “who created this?” moment a few days ago. Who invented cellophane? A Swiss textile engineer and chemist named Jacques E Brandenberger! He wanted to make waterproof film to waterproof cloth. He got cellophane.

In 1908, Brandenberger ended up making cellophane. Not great for cloth, but good for preserving and wrapping food products. He had created a machine to manufacture cellophane. The process was to take fibers from wood or cotton called viscose (a patent from 1892 by English chemists Charles  F. Cross and Edward J. Bevan) and extrude it through a narrow slit into an acid bath. The  acid regenerates the cellulose which creates a film. It gets treated with bleach and washes and blammo! Cellophane. He got himself patents for both his process and the machine.

The film has been used for food, candy and even as lenses in gas masks during WW I.

In 1917, the patents were assigned to La Cellophane Society Anonyme and Jacques joined the organization. Then, went on to sell cellophane to the US. And, granted Dupont a license to produce and sell cellophane in North and Central America. DuPont had to license any patents and processes they created back to La Cellophane to use. In 1927, DuPont had a team of researches, run by William Hale Church, were able to make cellophane moisture proof.

So, my tiny bag of lemon drops stay delicious and dry from a bunch of chemists being wicked inventive while building off of the works of others. Thanks, Science!