Chemistry_Grade_10-12 (1).pdf

These properties of thermoplastics are mostly due to

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a brittle, glassy state when it is cooled enough. These properties of thermoplastics are mostly due to the fact that the forces between chains are weak. This also means that these plastics can be easily stretched or moulded into any shape. Examples of thermoplastics include nylon, polystyrene, polyethylene, polypropylene and PVC. Thermoplastics are more easily recyclable than some other plastics. Thermosetting plastics differ from thermoplastics because once they have been formed, they cannot be remelted or remoulded. Examples include bakelite, vulcanised rubber, melanine (used to make furniture), and many glues. Thermosetting plastics are generally stronger than ther- moplastics and are better suited to being used in situations where there are high temperatures. They are not able to be recycled. Thermosetting plastics have strong covalent bonds between chains and this makes them very strong. Activity :: Case Study : Biodegradable plastics Read the article below and then answer the questions that follow. Our whole world seems to be wrapped in plastic. Almost every product we buy, most of the food we eat and many of the liquids we drink come encased in plastic. Plastic packaging provides excellent protection for the product, it is cheap to manufacture and seems to last forever. Lasting forever, however, is proving to be a major environmental problem. Another problem is that traditional plastics are manufactured from non-renewable resources - oil, coal and natural gas. In an effort to overcome these problems, researchers and engineers have been trying to develop biodegradable plastics that are made from renewable resources, such as plants. 194
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CHAPTER 10. ORGANIC MACROMOLECULES - GRADE 12 10.5 The term biodegradable means that a substance can be broken down into simpler substances by the activities of living organisms, and therefore is unlikely to remain in the environment. The reason most plastics are not biodegradable is because their long polymer molecules are too large and too tightly bonded together to be broken apart and used by decomposer organisms. However, plastics based on natural plant polymers that come from wheat or corn starch have molecules that can be more easily broken down by microbes. Starch is a natural polymer. It is a white, granular carbohydrate produced by plants during photosynthesis and it serves as the plant’s energy store. Many plants contain large amounts of starch. Starch can be processed directly into a bioplastic but, because it is soluble in water, articles made from starch will swell and deform when exposed to moisture, and this limits its use. This problem can be overcome by changing starch into a different polymer. First, starch is harvested from corn, wheat or potatoes, then microorganisms transform it into lactic acid, a monomer. Finally, the lactic acid is chemically treated to cause the molecules of lactic acid to link up into long chains or polymers, which bond together to form a plastic called polylactide (PLA).
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