Polymers and their Sources

Polymers and their Sources

Defining Polymers

  • Polymers are large molecules composed of repeating structural units, which can offer different properties and functionalities.

  • They are classified as natural and synthetic polymers, depending on their sources.

  • Natural polymers include proteins, DNA, and cellulose, while synthetic polymers include plastics, synthetic fibres, and rubber.

Natural Polymers

  • Natural polymers are found in nature and can be extracted and processed into usable materials.

  • Proteins, the primary building blocks of life, are natural polymers built from certain amino acids.

  • Cellulose, the key component of the cell walls of green plants, is another vital natural polymer.

  • Starch, made by all green plants, is a natural polymer that acts as a store of energy.

  • Silk and wool are protein-based natural polymers used in the textile industry.

Synthetic Polymers

  • Synthetic polymers are man-made polymers often derived from petrochemicals, but can also be synthesised from renewable resources.

  • Polyethylene, polypropylene, PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), and polystyrene are common types of synthetic polymers used in packaging, containers, pipes, and insulating materials.

  • Synthetic fiber polymers such as nylon and polyester are widely used in clothing and textiles.

  • Rubber is another example of a synthetic polymer; much of our modern rubber is synthetically created due to the increased demand.

Polymeric Materials and their Applications

  • Biodegradable polymers are developed to enhance the sustainability and reduce the environmental impact of products, these can be both synthetic and natural.

  • Synthetic polymers play a key role in the production of plastics, which have diverse applications including packaging, transportation, electronics, and healthcare.

  • Natural polymers like proteins and DNA are crucial in biological systems and in the field of biotechnology.

  • Polymers, being lightweight and highly versatile, are used extensively in the aerospace and automobile industries to reduce the weight of vehicles and enhance fuel efficiency.

  • Polymers are also used in medicine for purposes such as drug delivery, wound dressings, and artificial implants.