General view of an unidentified employee bagging carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) at the Hercules Powder Company plant in Hopewell, Virginia. Also known as cellulose gum or tylose powder, CMC is a cellulose derivative commonly used as a thickening agent or to stabilize emulsions in a range of materials, including toothpaste, water-based paints, detergents, and various paper products. Per notations accompanying the photograph, the CMC produced at the plant never came in contact with human hands.
Formed in 1912 as part of an anti-trust settlement with DuPont, the Hercules Powder Company (later Hercules Inc.) initially specialized in the manufacture of explosives and smokeless powders and subsequently diversified its business to encompass a variety of industrial products, including pine and paper chemicals, synthetics, pigments, polymers, and cellulose.
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Hercules Incorporated. “Bagging Cellulose Gum at Hercules Hopewell Plant,” 1957. Photographs from the Records & Ephemera of Hercules Incorporated, Box 1, Folder 37. Science History Institute. Philadelphia. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/05741s465.
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