Sunday 22 February 2015

PVC - Not always in best spot - but still a ground breaking industrial key product - WHY?

Poly(vinyl chloride) is the full name and every one of us had already contact with it: from in-house applications such as floor and window profiles over shoes up to swimming devices and medical equipment. More engineering applications are for example pipes. 

PVC is a thermoplastic polymer consisting of carbon (C), hydrogen (H) and chlorine (Cl).

The molar weight of this polymer contains 56.7% of chlorine [1], which means that less petroleum and gas resources are needed for its production in comparison to other polyolefins. This elevated content of chlorine also provides PVC with flame-retarding properties. As a result, PVC holds the lead in civil engineering applications, such as isolations and floorings.

During WW2 when natural rubber got short due to its extensive use as isolator, PVC was used as a replacement material helping to safe also the tropical Hevea tree.

PVC is one of the most versatile polymers. Though often ecological initiatives have tried to “down-size” PVC utilization, its worldwide production follows a growing path (see collage below based on Ceresana-report).

[1] W. Kaiser: Kunststoffchemie für Ingenieure: Von der Synthese bis zur Anwendung, Carl Hanser (2011)