Polypropylene is a very useful polymer. It serves double duty, both as a plastic and as a fiber. As a plastic it is used to make things like dishwasher-safe food containers, because unlike the more common polyethylene plastic, it melts at a higher temperature so it won't bend or warp in the dishwasher. As a fiber, polypropylene is used to make indoor-outdoor carpeting, the kind that you always find around swimming pools and miniature golf courses. It works well for outdoor carpet because it is easy to make colored polypropylene, and because polypropylene doesn't absorb water, like nylon does.
It is a vinyl polymer, similar to polyethylene, only that on every other carbon atom in the backbone chain has a methyl group attached to it.
This is what the monomer propylene really looks like. See the methyl group sticking off of it?
|And here's the polypropylene chain. Pretty cool huh?|
Right now scientists are working on making a version of polypropylene that is tough and flexible - a polyethylene elastomer. This elastomer is so strong that it doesn't have to be crosslinked like many other elastomers do. Because of this it would be easier to make into different things and recycle.
|Other polymers used as plastics include:||Other polymers used as fibers include:|
|Polycarbonate||Kevlar and Nomex|
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