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Industrial Importance of Alkenes

Polymeric Materials and their Monomers

Today, names of polymers such as polyethylene, PVC, teflon, polystyrene, orlon, and perspex (plexiglas, acrylic glas) are well known and used in everyday life. Reasons for the widespread use of polymers are their good mechanical properties and low specific weight. Their use in motor vehicles, for example, significantly contributes to the reduction of fuel consumption because of weight reduction. However, polymeric materials also have disadvantages. They cause considerable environmental pollution because many plastics are not biodegradable. By introducing so-called weak links, such as ester bonds, the biodegradability of polymers can be significantly increased. For recycling purposes, plastics must be separately collected according to the type of polymer which is indicated on the label: 1 or PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate, 2 or HDPE for high-density polyethylene, 3 or PVC for polyvinyl chloride, 4 or LDPE for low-density polyethylene, 5 or PP for polypropylene, 6 or PS for polystyrene, and 7 for all other types of polymer.

Tab.1
Important monomers, the corresponding polymers and applications
Ethylene
Fig.1
PolyethylenePlastic bags, boxes
Vinyl chloride
Fig.2
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)Pipes
Tetrafluoroethylene
Fig.3
TeflonStain-resistant crockery
Styrene (vinylbenzene)
Fig.4
PolystyreneFoamed packaging materials
Acrylonitril (propenenitril)
Fig.5
OrlonClothes, synthetic textile materials
Methylmethacrylate (methyl 2-methylacrylate)
Fig.6
Perspex (Plexiglas)Impact-resistant boards
Vinyl acetate
Fig.7
Polyvinyl acetateLatex paints, glues, paper coatings
Isobutene (2-methylpropene)
Fig.8
Polyisobutene (PIB)Removal of oil spill

Exercise

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