Ted Merriman was instrumental in developing a pulped form of Kevlar fiber that made it suitable for use in automobile brake lining in the late 1970s, after it was discovered that the standard material, asbestos fiber, caused a particular form of lung cancer. Merriman developed a process that produced Kevlar fluff using conventional paper-making equipment. Because Kevlar cost about one hundred times as much as asbestos, brake linings had to be redesigned to use very small amounts of it. Working with brake pad manufacturers, Merriman succeeded in producing a commercially viable Kevlar brake pads that had good wear characteristics and were quieter than other types. Brake lining became a significant market for Kevlar.
To make sure that Kevlar did have adverse health effects, DuPont did extensive testing of the material at its own toxicology facility, the Haskell Laboratory. In the early 1980s, Merriman was made the official “Product Steward” for Kevlar to make sure that there were no health or safety problems for DuPont’s customers.