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What is Polystyrene?

Polystyrene is a polymer of styrene. It is a synthetic aromatic hydrocarbon. It is hydrophobic in nature. Its IUPAC name is poly(1-phenylethene-1,2-diyl). Its general formula is (C₈H₈)n.


Structure of Polystyrene

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Properties of Polystyrene

  • polystyrene exists in an amorphous state because of the presence of bulky phenyl groups, packing of polystyrene chains is not efficient. 

  • polystyrene is non-polar in nature.

  • polystyrene melting point is 240 degrees Celsius.

  • polystyrene density is 1.05 g/cm3

  • polystyrene boiling point is 430 degrees Celsius.

  • polystyrene thermal conductivity is 0.003 W/m.K.

  • polystyrene specific gravity is 1.054.

  • polystyrene has a good optical property like it is transparent polymer allowing high transmission of all wavelengths. Moreover, its high refractive index gives it a particularly high brilliance.

  • Due to the chain stiffening effect of the benzene ring, polystyrene is hard but brittle. It emits a characteristics metallic sound when dropped.

  • Being a non-polar amorphous polymer, its softening temperature is low. It cannot withstand the temperature of boiling water.

  • polystyrene has a low tendency for moisture absorption. Moreover, it has good electrical insulation characteristics. Therefore, used in making polystyrene insulation products.

  • polystyrene has reasonable chemical resistance but mediocre oil resistance.

Preparation of Polystyrene

Polystyrene is prepared by free radicle addition polymerization of styrene in the presence of benzoyl peroxide as a catalyst.

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Use of Polystyrene

  • It is used for making polystyrene products like polystyrene sheets, polystyrene foam, brush handles, and combs.

  • It is used for making talcum powder. 

  • It is used for making polystyrene plastic like small jars, bottle caps, polystyrene cup, and storage container.

  • It is used for making audio cassettes.

Did you know?

  • Polystyrene is very light in weight, as it is composed of 95% air.

  • It exists in two forms: expanded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene.

  • It can be reuse and recycle.

  • It is environmentally friendly.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Question: Why Polystyrene is Brittle in Nature?

Answer: Due to chain stiffening effect of the benzene ring, polystyrene is hard but brittle in nature. It emits a characteristics metallic sound when dropped.

Question: Why Polystyrene Exist in Amorphous State?

Answer: Because of the presence of bulky phenyl groups, packing of polystyrene chains is not efficient and hence it is an amorphous polymer.

Question: Explain Five Properties of Polystyrene.

Answer: Five properties of polystyrene are given below:

  • polystyrene has a good optical property like it is transparent polymer allowing high transmission of all wavelengths. Moreover, its high refractive index gives it a particularly high brilliance.

  • Due to the chain stiffening effect of the benzene ring, polystyrene is hard but brittle. It emits a characteristic metallic sound when dropped.

  • Being a non-polar amorphous polymer, its softening temperature is low. It cannot withstand the temperature of boiling water.

  • polystyrene has a low tendency for moisture absorption. Moreover, it has good electrical insulation characteristics. Therefore, used in making polystyrene insulation products.

  • polystyrene has reasonable chemical resistance but mediocre oil resistance

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