1. History of the formation Polyethylene
Polyethylene was first discovered by accident in a laboratory in 1898. This is a running theme throughout the history of the plastics industry.
- Polyethylene (PE) was first synthesized by the German chemist Hans von Pechman, who prepared it accidentally in 1898, while heating diazomethane. When his colleagues Eugen Bamberger and Friedrich Tschirner characterized the white, waxy substance he had obtained, they recognized that it contained long -CH2- chains and called it Polymethylene.
- Until in 1933, the first industrially practical synthesis of polyethylene was discovered by Eric Fawcett and Reginald Gibson at the Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) works in Northwich, England. Upon applying extremely high pressure (several hundred atmospheres) to a mixture of ethylene and benzaldehyde, they too produced a white waxy material. Because the reaction had been initiated by trace oxygen contamination in their apparatus, the experiment was at first difficult to reproduce. It was not until 1935, that another ICI chemist, Michael Perrin, developed this accident into a reproducible, high-pressure synthesis for polyethylene. Right after that, ICI applied for a patent for new material and began commercialization. That is the way Polyethylene was born.
2. Development of Polyethylene
Did you know that polyethylene played a key supporting role during World War II ?
- It was first used as an underwater cable coating and then as a critical insulating material for vital military applications as radar insulation. This is because it was very light and thin that it made placing radar onto airplanes possible thus vastly reducing the weight. Due to this, British technology had an outstanding development in radar major during World War II.
- After the war, polyethylene became a tremendous hit with consumers. US government came to an agreement with CIC to produce Polyethylene domestically.
Women working in America plastics factory in World War II
- It became the first plastic in the United States to sell more than a billion pounds a year. Until World War II ended, Polyethylene was used widely and also detected about its processing method. Polyethylene is currently the largest volume plastic in the world.
3. Polyethylene benefits
- Today, Polyethylene has the advantages of excellent moisture-vapor, chemical, and electrical resistance. It is widely used for making containers, wire cable insulation, pipe, linings, coatings, and engineered films. It is used to power transmission, consumer goods, packaging, electronics household good and more.
- PE have only one principal disadvantage that is poor mechanical strength, unless it has a little help from scrim reinforcement. However, with the development in modern production technology, many manufacturers are ceaselessly improving and making it become the most quality plastic products. We applaud these scientists for creating polyethylene that is used in a variety of plastic sheeting products today.