New research by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology indicates that polyethylenes may be the most versatile polymer, but that its performance may be under- or overestimated.
The NIST-sponsored report, “High-Performance Polymers and Polymer Polymers,” says that polyester has been used for more than 30 years to make the fabric of some cars, chairs, and other high-tech products.
Polyethylene (PEG) is a synthetic polymer with the same properties as polypropylene.
It’s also used in the lining of computers and smartphones, in insulation, and to make plastics for electronics.
But polyethylENE, which is made from petroleum distillate, has an unusual structural quality: It is not chemically stable and is highly brittle.
In addition, it is less than 2 percent polyethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (PADA), the chemical compound that gives plastic its distinctive color and feel.
The researchers found that PADA was not the limiting factor in the performance of polyethylens or polypropylens.
Instead, they suggest that they are the primary limiting factor because of the polyethyleners’ high resistance to corrosion.
“When the properties of a polymer are high, you have to worry about corrosion,” said David P. Hensley, a chemical engineer at Stanford University.
“That’s why they’re so popular in consumer products.”
Polyethylene polymers are a family of compounds that include polyethylethylene, polypropane, and polystyrene.
Polymers with the four major groups are polyethylylene, polyethylbenzene, benzene, and styrene.
The polymers used in cars, electronics, and furniture all use polyethylenic polymers as their primary structural building blocks.
Polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam, is a porous, flexible polymer that is widely used for insulation and as an insulator.
The new report says that PDEs can play an important role in the structural stability of polymers.
For example, polymers with PDE’s high resistance (and the fact that they can corrode) can help to reduce the stress that occurs on their materials.
But the authors note that these PDE-related defects are rare.
For instance, they found that the performance difference between polyethylenzene and polyethylenoise was only about 0.003 percent.
That performance difference may be because of PDE stability issues, but the authors also point out that polymers also have other properties that contribute to their strength and stability.
For one, polymethylene and the other PDE compounds have a low melting point, so the polymer has a low chance of breaking down if the temperature rises to temperatures above 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
A high melting point can increase the chances that the polymer will break down.
Another reason for the performance advantage of polystyrenes is their relatively high thermal conductivity.
In thermal conductive materials, the thermal conductivities of the material change depending on the temperature, and thermal conductance can determine the strength of the polymer.
A material that has a higher thermal conductability will be more likely to resist heat.
“The stability and strength of polymer materials is determined by their structure, not by their physical properties,” said Piotr Zaloga, an engineer at the Uppsala University of Technology.
“Polymers are the basis of our daily lives and in some cases are the source of our energy.”
In the future, PDE polymers will be used in more than just automobile parts, but in a wide variety of other products.
The report suggests that many polymers, including polyethylpropylene, will be produced in a biodegradable form that can be used for cleaning, washing, and dry cleaning.
“There’s a lot of opportunity for these materials to be used to improve our lives in many different ways,” said John H. Sauer, a materials scientist at the University of Pennsylvania who was not involved in the research.
For more information on PDE, visit the UPMC Polymer Institute’s Polymers page.