Polystyrene Is Marketed (Great Events: 1900-2001)
Article abstract: The marketing of polystyrene was a major development in adapting natural substances to meet the needs of society, but its overuse has also threatened the environment.
Polystyrene Is Characterized
In the late eighteenth century, a scientist by the name of Casper Neuman described the isolation of a chemical called “storax” from a balsam tree that grew in Asia Minor. This isolation led to the first report on the physical properties of the substance that is now known as “styrene.” The work of Neuman was confirmed and expanded upon years later, first in 1839 by Edward Simon, who evaluated the temperature dependence of styrene, and later by Charles Gerhardt, who proposed its molecular formula. The work of these two men sparked an interest in styrene and its derivatives.
Polystyrene belongs to a special class of molecules known as “polymers.” A polymer (the name means “many parts”) is a giant molecule formed by combining small molecular units, called “monomers.” This combination results in a macromolecule whose physical properties—especially its strength and flexibility—are significantly different from those of its monomer components. Such polymers are often simply called “plastics.”
Polystyrene has become an important material in modern society because it exhibits a variety of physical characteristics that can be manipulated for the production of consumer...
(The entire section is 927 words.)
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