What are polymers?
A polymer is a complex compound having a high molecular weight and consisting of a number of constituent units that are interconnected by chemical bonds. The most common basis of the structure of a polymer is a monomer - a structural fragment consisting of several atoms.
Most polymers are produced synthetically (although there are natural polymers) using polymerization and polycondensation reactions. For example, ethylene is converted to polyethylene, propylene to polypropylene, etc.
The properties of polymers are largely determined by their composition, but some features are the same for most polymers. As a matter of fact, these particular features ensure their widest practical purpose. The polymers are flexible, flexible and not fragile. The macromolecules that make up the polymer can change their orientation under the action of a specific mechanical field, this feature is used in the production of films.
Another interesting property of polymers is the ability to abruptly change the physicomechanical properties when exposed to a small amount of reagent. This feature is used in the vulcanization of rubber, tanning leather, etc.
Types of polymers
Polymers are classified by a number of attributes. The most significant classifications are by origin and chemical composition.
By origin polymers are:
- Natural - existing in nature (starch, proteins, etc.);
- Synthetic - obtained synthetically (polyethylene, polypropylene, etc.);
- Artificial - obtained synthetically from natural polymers (nitrocellulose, methylcellulose, etc.).
Chemical composition distinguish polymers:
- Element-organic - contain in their composition both organic and inorganic structures.
Polymers in practice
Polymers are widely used in various fields - mechanical engineering, textile industry, medicine, agriculture. In everyday life there is also a place for polymeric compounds. Things, of which polymers are a part, surround us everywhere - various types of fabrics (wool, silk, leather, etc.),plastic products, building mixes (cement, clay, etc.), rubber products, utensils ... In general, the role of polymeric compounds in our life is truly enormous. Now you know what a polymer is.
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