Polymer Journal #1

  1. What are polymers and how are they made? 

A polymer is a substance that is composed of many simple molecules bonded together called monomers (in other words, it’s when many molecules of a simple compound joined together). A single polymer molecule might consist of hundreds to millions of monomers and may have a linear, branched, or network structure. The amount of monomers in a polymer determines the so called degree of polymerization. When there’s a large amount of monomers in a polymer, it tends to have a high degree of polymerization and it’s called a high polymer.  

There are two ways a polymer can be created: 

  • Condensation polymerization reaction – A polymer is created, but also a small molecule is eliminated or lost.  
  • Addition polymerization – When two or more molecules joins together to form a single product. 

PVA Borax Polymer 

PVA solution can be made into a slime by adding borax. PVA is already a polymer, and in this case, it is providing back bone for the atoms that will be joined. When they are mixed, the chains of atoms becomes linked together. As a result, the new substance becomes more solid.  

 

Synthetic Materials

2. Synthetic materials are artificial materials made from different substances through polymerization. Synthetic materials are manmade and are not produced in the wild.

Two examples of synthetic material are rayon and polyester:

  • Polyester derives coal, air, water, and petroleum. The fibers of polyester are made during a chemical reaction between acid and alcohol. In the reaction, multiple molecules combine to form a larger molecule which will stand as the basis for polyester. The molecules are extremely strong and stable, making polyester non-absorbent and stretch resistant.
  • Rayon is comprised wood pulp or cotton. The chemical reaction for rayon to form is when cellulose, an organic compound found in wood pulp or cotton is extracted to form white sheets of pure cellulose. The sheets are then put in to sodium hydroxide. The sheets are then shredded and dried out to crumbs and are left in metal containers for a couple of days. It is then mixed with liquid carbon disulfide to make viscose solution which is then spun to yarn. 

3. Citations

“Unsafe Slime? How Bad Is Borax, Really?” The Chronicle Flask, 28 Dec. 2018, chronicleflask.com/2017/08/07/slime-safety/.

“Rayon.” How Products Are Made, www.madehow.com/Volume-1/Rayon.html.

“Polyester.” How Products Are Made, www.madehow.com/Volume-2/Polyester.html.

Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., kids.britannica.com/students/article/polymer/276496.

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