Two views of employee Paul F. Brown feeding raw cotton linters (short fiber residues left on the cottonseed after the longer staple, aka the "lint" fibers, are removed by ginning) into a bale breaking machine in the Cellulose Department at the Hercules Powder Company plant in Hopewell, Virginia. Known as "chemical cotton," purified cellulose obtained from raw cotton linters is commonly used for the manufacture of cellulose ethers, i.e. water-soluble polymers that have a variety of uses as thickeners, binders, and water-retention agents in products ranging from ceramics and paints to food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.
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. “Paul F. Brown Operating Bale Breaking Machine at Hercules Hopewell Plant,” 1951. Photographs from the Records & Ephemera of Hercules Incorporated, Box 1, Folder 36. Science History Institute. Philadelphia. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/zw12z596t.
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