|A research student working
for Walter Kaminsky at the University of Hamburg was using a modified
Ziegler catalyst based on a titanium-based metallocene. Usually
the polymerisation was slow, so Kaminsky did not expect much from
the experiment. But the student obtained quite a lot of poly(ethene).
||This was a perhaps lazy,
but honest, student. He admitted that he had not flushed the apparatus
out with nitrogen at the start, as he should have done.
It took six months to sort out that it was water in the air,
and not oxygen, which was responsible for the polymerisation.
When a 1:1 mixture of triethylaluminium and water was used along
with the titanocene the rate of polymerisation went up a million