Orlon [Acrylic]

The product of a reaction of propylene oxygen and ammonia can be polymerized using free radicals to form polyacrylonitrile [Orlon]
[Britannica.com : Definition polyacrylonitrile]

Acrylic is a synthetic polymer. The name Orlon® has been trademarked by the DuPont company, discovered by a scientist working with rayon. Production of the trademarked material began in 1950. [DuPont] Acrylic fibers are made from Polyacrylonitrile. Acrylic is often used in place of glass; it’s clear properties allow it to be thick and not take on a tint, as glass will. [WiseGeek] Used in fabrics, it is similar to wool and cashmere. [Wikipedia]The polymers obtained in the course of this research had properties between those of a tough, flexible glass and a rigid plastic.” [Direct Quote : Plexiglas® – Product History]

A monomer of Polyacrylonitrile

We’ve all heard of Plexiglas, no? Just one of the many forms of Acrylic. What kind of paint do we use in art class? Acrylic. The first water-borne acrylic (the kind we use today) was developed and launched in 1955. Acrylic fibers have many uses [besides paint]. Acrylic fibers are used for yarn [and, consequently, socks], awnings, furniture, and rugs, among other things. Acrylic fibers are claimed to be “resistant to moths, oil and chemicals” [Direct Quote : FiberSource – Acrylic Fiber] It is also easy to dye and flexible. Acrylic is used to make a membrane which is used in dialysis. Dialysis is the process used to clean the blood of people affected by kidney diseases.

To be certified acrylic, the fibers have to contain at least 85% acrylonitrile. (CH2-CHCN)n is the formula for Orlon. And, of course, the monomer that makes up the large part of the polymer is acrylonitrile, whose formula is C3H3N. The polymer, Polyacrylonitrile, is a high-melting solid which is soluble in organic solvents [Direct Quote : cem.msu.edu – Polymers]

A dimer of acrylonitrile

Acrylic is both recyclable and biodegradable. The monomers are linked using addition. An addition reaction is “a reaction in which two molecules react together to produce a single larger molecule.” And addition polymerization are “reactions in which monomers bond to each other without losing any atoms. The polymer is the only product and has the same empirical formula as the monomer.” [Direct Quotes : Illustrated Dictionary – Pages 193 & 200]
The above picture is of an Orlon fiber being degraded by Micrococcus luteus BST20 [which was found at a sewage composting plant in Austria], a bacterium.

The molecular weight of Polyacrylonitrile is 53.06262 grams/mole


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