By Heinz Martin

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Accordingly, the claims of this patent application were directed to a process for the polymerization and co-polymerization of olefins. 1 Appraising the Historical Course of the Invention from a Year-2000 Vantage Point The second half of the 20th century witnessed an incredible stimulation not only in polymer chemistry, but in particular in the chemistry of heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis as a result of the inventions of Ziegler and his co-workers (Ziegler catalysts and their application).

1 H. Martin: Experiments May–July 6, 1954; H. Breil: Masters Thesis The main focus which gave direction to the series of experiments conducted at Mülheim between May and mid-July 1954 was established by the fact that upon determining the molecular weight of the polyethylenes produced, very high values (several hundred thousands up to several millions) had been ascertained. Processing on conventional extruders was not possible. The solution to the problem presented itself in the finding that the molar ratio of the components employed in the preparation of the catalyst appeared to be crucial in determining the chain length of the polyethylene produced.

Ziegler, had noticed an important development which deviated from the usual test results: instead of a chain-building reaction, he observed a displacement reaction, which for the most part produced butene, the dimer of ethylene, a portion of which, was again dimerized. The search for the cause of this reaction, as is generally known pointed to traces of nickel metal from the chromium – nickel – steel of the autoclave acting as a co-catalyst. By adding finely dispersed nickel, the addition reaction could be curtailed.

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