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Commercially Significant Polymers

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Students learn to identify the following as commercially significant monomers:
- vinyl chloride
- styrene
by both their systematic and common names

Polyethene (polyethylene) and polypropene (polypropylene) are two of the most common synthetic polymers. It is estimated that worldwide about 5 kg of polyethene is produced per person per year.

Vinyl chloride and styrene, both produced from ethene, are the monomers for some more polymers of global importance - PVC (poly(vinylchloride)) and poly(styrene).

Some typical monomers and their polymers (with the carbon backbone coloured). The polymers shown are poly(styrene), poly(vinyl chloride) and poly(acrylonitrile).

These are all polymers that are formed by addition polymerisation.

It's interesting to note that although the names of these monomers (styrene, vinyl chloride and acrylonitrile) look like they are trivial names, they are in fact the correct, formal names approved by IUPAC for these molecules. This is an indication of the innate conservatism of polymer chemists and their disproportionate representation in the councils of the great. litcla