UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
I need some info on PVC plastic. I need to know the process of making it and all the chemical reactions involved. Thankyou
Question Date: 2002-05-15
Answer 1:

PVC (poly-vinyl chloride) is a polymer that mimics polyethylene but is much easier to produce and is almost universal in application. Vinyl chloride is singly chlorinated ethylene. Most polymerization processes make use of reduction of a double bond to a single bond by means of a free radical, and PVC is the prototypical version of this process. Essentially, the double bond is broken in the ethylene to allow two single bonds to neighboring monomers to make a chain that can be thousands of molecules long. (In general, longer strands improve many of the properties of the material -- for example tensile strength versus brittleness.

While PVC is very stable and is widely used in health care applications (it is easy to sterilize), vinyl chloride is a known carcinogen and is relatively dangerous. A particular danger is from smoke inhalation of burning byproducts of PVC. (I must point out that burning creosote is even more dangerous to breathe!) Despite similarities to other chlorinated organics (such as chlorinated phenols which were used for years as anti-bacterial agents), PVC's are themselves stable, non-toxic, plastics with minimal out gassing if manufactured correctly. There are lots of sites on the web regarding plastics, some are quite factual -- some are not.

Answer 2:

Briefly, Vinyl Chloride is made by the reaction of acetylene and hydrochloric acid. Poly(Vinyl Chloride) is made by the free radical polymerization of Vinyl Chloride.

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use