Polyethylene

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Polyethylene or polythene (IUPAC name polyethene or poly(methylene)) is the most widely used plastic, with an annual production of approximately 80 million metric tons.[1] Its primary use is within packaging (plastic bag, etc).

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Description

Polyethylene is a thermoplastic polymer consisting of long chains produced by combing the ingredient monomer ethylene (IUPAC name ethene), the name comes from the ingredient and not the actual chemical resulting. The ethylene actually converts to ethane as it takes its place in a polymer and straight sections of the polymer are the same structure as the simple chain hydrocarbons eg propane,decane and other straight single bonded carbon chains. As with any polymer, the structure of the resulting substance defies molecular description due to cross branching of the chains. The recommended scientific name polyethene is systematically derived from the scientific name of the monomer.[2][3] In certain circumstances it is useful to use a structure-based nomenclature; in such cases IUPAC recommends poly(methylene)[3] (poly(methanediyl) is an non-preferred alternative[4][5]). The difference in names between the two systems is due to the opening up of the monomer's double bond upon polymerization.

The name is abbreviated to PE in a manner similar to that by which other polymers like polypropylene and polystyrene are shortened to PP and PS respectively. In the United Kingdom the polymer is commonly called polythene, although this is not recognized scientifically.

The ethene molecule (known almost universally by its common name ethylene) C2H4 is CH2=CH2, Two CH2 groups connected by a double bond, thus:

Polyethylene contains the chemical elements carbon and hydrogen.

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