A Textile Institute member and leading academic is calling on the UK Government to honour two scientist for pioneering one of the greatest innovations in the history of textiles.

Professor Kirill Perepelkin, Head of the Materials Science Department at Saint Petersburg state University of Technology and design, believes British chemists Dr JR Whinfield and DR JT Dickson should be recognized for their invention of Terylene® (chemical title of polymer PETF, or Polyethyleneterephtalate).

Now Professor Perepelkin has written to Prime Minister Tony Blair endorsing the great significance of their work and calling for them to be honoured in 2001 - the 100th anniversary of Dr Whinfield's birth and 60th anniversary of the important discovery.

In his letter, Professor Perepelkin states: "In 1941 an event took place which today is only know by a small circle of specialists but influenced the lives of people around the world - the invention of an excellent polymer and new fibre, Terylene.

The memory of this excellent invention, and in particular the 100th anniversary of Dr Whinfield's birth, must be marked. The names of famous scientists and inventors of the past - Watt, Cartwright and Lord Kelvin (Thomson) are known in Great Britain and across the world. The names of JR Whinfield and JT Dickinson must be known too."

Terylene is a generic name for a synthetic thread that has the advantages of nylon thread, but does not have the undesirable high degree of elasticity. Due to this, it does not present the problem of thread retraction after cutting.

As with nylon thread, it is highly resistant to moisture and retains a large part of its dry strength when wet. Terylene is also almost entirely free from contaminating metals which might tend to cause degradation.

Terylene represents:
  • 56% of all synthetic fibres output - more than 18 million tonnes per year
  • The main material for tyres and rubber reinforced manufactured articles
  • An essential element in photographic, cinema, and X-Ray films; audio and video recorder bands; and hard and floppy computer discs
  • An important component in plastic food packaging - in particular plastic drinks bottle (more than 6 million tonnes output per year).

As well as The Textile Institute, Professor Perepelkin is a member of the Chemical Society of Textiles and Light Industry, Russia. Over the years, his knowledge and experience has been honoured by leading academic bodies including The Textile Institute, The International Engineering Academy, The Russian Engineering Academy and the St Petersburg Engineering Academy.