Polyvinyl Chloride: How it’s made, Properties, Uses and The Olden Days
How is it made?
Once Ethylene has been separated and extracted, the next step is the extraction of chloride from seawater. When these two elements are blended and go through a thermal cracking process they generate Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM). Which then its polymerised - binding the VCMs - resulting in Polyvinyl Chloride, famously known around the world as PVC.
After we have the base for every vinyl compound we can divide it into two major groups: rigid or flexible. Depending on the additives added to PVC we can have a plethora of final products.
PVC has got high impact strength, transparency, long-term stability and resistance to oil and chemicals.
You might be familiar with uPVC or PVCU - unplasticised polyvinyl chloride - usually used as a substitute for painted wood on framed windows - due to its low-maintenance and low-cost - and for piping.
In its flexible form can be used for medical bags (blood bags) and tubing, carpet backing, and flooring.
In its rigid form is used mainly in the construction industry for plumbing pipes, conduit, siding/cladding, window frames, decking, and railing.
If properly recycled it can be retransformed into e.g. pipes, decking, carpet backing, flooring.
The olden days
Even though it was first prepared in 1835 by French chemist Henry Victor Regnault and later by German chemist Eugen Baumann in 1875. It was Friedrich Heinrich August Klatte that patent it in 1913. However, due to the rigidity of PVC, it was only in 1926 when North American chemist Waldo Lunsbury Semon found a more flexible form, that mass production was started.