All You Wanted to Know About the Amazing Properties of Polystyrene

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What is polystyrene? What are its residences, and what is it used for? Let’s find out!TAGGED UNDER: Chemistry

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Enlarge ImagePolystyrene is produced by means of the polymerization of the monomer styrene, that is a spinoff of petroleum. If you study the chemical structure of polystyrene, you will see that it’s far composed of carbon and hydrogen atoms best. Thus, it’s far categorized as a hydrocarbon. Now, in case you observe the bonds in its chemical structure, you’ll see that the carbon atoms are related to one another by covalent bonds. Every exchange carbon atom on the polystyrene chain has a phenyl organization ( the name given to benzene ring) connected to it. It is a long-chain hydrocarbon, and its chemical components are C8H8)n. Given beneath is the chemical structure of polystyrene.


Styrene is an fragrant monomer, commercially made from petroleum. Polystyrene is a vinyl polymer, made of the styrene monomer by unfastened radical vinyl polymerization.
Properties of Polystyrene
Now that we’ve seen the structure of polystyrene, allow us to delve a little deeper into its properties. Here we will study the bodily, mechanical, optical, thermal, electric, and chemical homes of polystyrene.
Physical Properties
► The density of polystyrene can vary from 10kg/m3 to 50kg/m3.
► Unfilled polystyrene is amorphous, and has a glassy, sparkling appearance. It is also referred to as crystal polystyrene.
► An essential asset of extruded polystyrene is its buoyancy or capacity to waft in water. This makes it the appropriate desire for making floating boards. If you have ever been to the swimming pool and observed the colorful forums, you will realize what we speak me about!
► The viscosity of polystyrene, like several different non-Newtonian fluids, depends on the shear price. It is the ratio of the shear stress to shear price.
Here are the values for the physical homes of preferred motive polystyrene (GPPS).
Physical PropertiesProperty Unit ValueSpecific Gravity g/cm3 1.03 to one.06Apparent Density g/cm3 zero.60 to 0.Sixty fiveWater Absorption % 0.03 to zero.10
The bodily houses of polystyrene are due to the presence of weak van der Waals forces among the chains of the polymer. On heating, the forces weaken similarly, and the chains slide past one another. This is the motive polystyrene is incredibly elastic and softens whilst heated past its glass transition temperature.
Mechanical Properties
The mechanical residences of a polymer consist of its strength, elongation, modulus, impact strength, and longevity. Crystal kinds of the polymer polystyrene have low impact power. Polystyrene polymers get degraded on publicity to daylight, due to picture oxidation, which influences its mechanical houses. The following desk shows the value of the mechanical houses of well-known motive polystyrene (GPPS).
Mechanical PropertiesProperty Unit ValueTensile Modulus or Young’s Modulus MPa 3000-3600Tensile Strength MPa 30-60Tensile Elongation % 1.0 to 5.0Shear Modulus MPa 1400Flexural Strength MPa seventy-sixFlexural Modulus MPa 3200
Optical Properties



GPPS is transparent whilst excessive effect polystyrene (HIPS), that is a copolymer fashioned via adding rubber to polystyrene at the time of polymerization, is opaque. However, HIPS has gloss, that is measured by using the percentage of mild meditated via the surface of the polymer. Given under are the values of the optical residences of GPPS.
Optical PropertiesProperty Unit ValueRefractive Index – 1.Fifty-eight to 1.59Transmittance % 88 to ninetyHaze % 0.10 to 1.1
Thermal Properties
Thermal homes are the properties exhibited by the substance while it’s far subjected to warmness. These consist of the warmth distortion temperature, glass transition temperature, thermal conductivity, etc. Polystyrene is an inflexible, transparent thermoplastic, that is present in strong or glassy state at ordinary temperature. But, when heated above its glass transition temperature, it will become the liquid shape that flows and may be without problems used for molding and extrusion. It will become strong again while it cools off. These belongings of polystyrene are used for casting it into molds with first-rate detail. Given under are the values of the thermal properties for GPPS.
Thermal PropertiesProperty Unit ValueGlass Transition Temperature °C 100Specific Heat Capacity J/Kg-K 1250Thermal Conductivity W/m-K 0.14Thermal Expansion (20°C to 100°C) μm/m-K a hundred and twentyVicat Softening Temperature °C 100
Electrical Properties
Electrical houses are the houses of a substance that determine its response to an electric powered field. Given under are the values of those residences for GPPS.
Electrical PropertiesProperty Unit ValueDielectric Strength MV/m 20Dielectric Constant (at 1MHz) – 2.5Volume Resistivity ohm-cm >1016Arc Resistance sec 70
Chemical Properties
► Polystyrene is chemically inert and does not react with most substances.
► It dissolves in a few organic solvents. It is soluble in solvents that incorporate acetone, such as maximum aerosol paint sprays and cyanoacrylate glues.
► The transformation of carbon-carbon double bonds into less reactive single bonds in polystyrene is the principle motive for its chemical stability. Most of the chemical homes of polystyrene are because of the precise houses of carbon.
► It is quite flammable and burns with an orange-yellow flame, giving off carbon particles or soot, as a feature of all fragrant hydrocarbons. Polystyrene, on entire oxidation, produces only carbon dioxide and water vapor.
Other Forms of Polystyrene
Unfilled polystyrene is likewise called crystal polystyrene (PS) or trendy purpose polystyrene (GPPS). However, for the reason that crystal polystyrene is brittle, other polymers are introduced to polystyrene to improve its strength, and copolymers are shaped as an end result. One such copolymer is excessive effect polystyrene (HIPS), that’s produced through including polybutadiene rubber to polystyrene at some point of the polymerization process. HIPS is harder and has a greater impact electricity than unfilled polystyrene.
There are distinct styles of polystyrene. Extruded polystyrene (XPS) is one shape of the polymer that has excessive tensile power, with exact elasticity. It is typically referred to as Styrofoam™. The other commonplace shape of polystyrene is improved polystyrene (EPS). Both EPS and XPS are made from comparable substances however there is a distinction among the 2. XPS has a better density compared to EPS, due to the absence of air passages between its cells. The better density makes XPS extra rigid and sturdy. Also, XPS is water resistant and is an effective thermal insulator.
Polystyrene became first produced in Germany, in the 12 months 1930, by way of I.G. Farben. Since then, it has come a long manner, and today, it’s miles one of the most broadly manufactured polymers in the global, 2d handiest to polyethylene. A key motive for that is the fact that it is a thermoplastic. The benefit of thermoplastics is they can be molded into a host of useful merchandise. Also, being clean and obvious, it permits for the addition of various hues. These hues are brought to the plastic in its liquid state. One of the principal uses of polystyrene is inside the manufacture of polystyrene foam for packing objects for cargo. It is likewise used to fabricate disposable cutlery, plates, cups, and so forth. Medical and pharmaceutical gadget are also manufactured the usage of this polymer.
In the marketplace, you will locate polystyrene in both, pellet and sheet form. Extruded polystyrene has insulating residences, and is used in the making of commonplace household objects and toys. Polystyrene isn’t a poisonous product and is permitted by the FDA for use in the manufacture of meals containers. However, like several other plastics, it isn’t always biodegradable. However, it may be without difficulty recycled.

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About the Author: Todd R. Brain