Industrial Monomer Types
The most widely-used industrial monomers are ethylene, propene, and styrene. Most of their industrial applications are related to plastics, coatings, lubricants, and rubber.
MONOMER 1: ETHYLENE
- Ethylene is the most widely produced organic compound in the world, with over 150 million tonnes being produced in 2016.
- An essential, basic building block in a wide range of plastics, solvents, cosmetics, and anti-freeze solutions, ethylene is most commonly used to make polymers, with the production of polyethylene, the most popular plastic in the world, consuming about 60% of the world's ethylene.
- Additionally, ethylene is used in the production of ethylene dichloride, which is used to make vinyl chloride and then polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC is widely used to manufacture pipes, conduits, fittings, windows, roof tiles, fencing and automobile parts, films, sheets, cable coatings, flooring, shower curtains and synthetic leather products.
- Approximately 16% of ethylene is used to make epoxyethane and then ethane-1,2-diol, which is used to manufacture engine coolants and polyesters. Epoxyethane can also produce various ethanolamines, which are used in textile finishing, cosmetics, soaps, detergents, gas purification processes, and corrosion inhibitors.
- Ethylene glycol, a product of ethylene, is used as an industrial lubricant and coolant in many forms.
MONOMER 2: PROPENE
- Approximately 85 million tonnes of propene were produced in 2013.
- Most propene is used to make polypropene (polypropylene), a thermoplastic polymer resin plastic, which accounts for 67% of the propene market.
- Polypropylene is used to make pallets, crates, bottles, tote bags, cynch bags duffel bags, and jewelry. In the medical industry, it's used in sutures, waste and drug containers, and surgical tools. Polypropylene is also used in the automotive industry, specifically upholstery, carpets, dashboards, bumpers, cladding, and exterior trims.
- Additionally, polypropylene is used in industrial applications to "produce acid and chemical tanks, sheets, pipes, and returnable transport packaging (RTP)" due to its strength and resistance to extreme temperatures and corrosion.
- Around 7% of propene is used to make propylene oxide, which is widely-used to manufacture polyethers and propylene glycol and as a "pesticide and a fumigant for the sterilization of packaged foods and plastic medical instruments".
- Propene is used to produce acrylonitrile, which is used to manufacture synthetic fibers. Other uses of acrylonitrile include "textiles, dinnerware, food containers, toys, luggage, automotive parts, small appliances, telephones, and fumigants".
MONOMER 3: STYRENE
- About 25 million tonnes of styrene were produced in 2010.
- 59% of styrene is used to produce polystyrene, a foam that includes styrofoam and many other brands. Polystyrene is used in food service containers, CD cases, appliance housings, envelope windows, and many other products.
- The second most common use of styrene is the manufacturing of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN), which make up about 20.9% of the styrene market.
- ABS is used to make light yet strong products such as "pipes, automotive body parts, wheel covers, enclosures, and protective headgear" while SAN is used to produce "battery cases, dials, knobs, switches, lenses, toothbrush handles, trays, containers, covers, cassette cases, disposable lighters, mixers, juicers, pencil cases, stereo dust covers, hangers, cosmetic containers".
- Styrene is also used to make Styrene-butadiene (SB) rubber and latex, both making up 4.8% of the market. SB rubber is used to make "drive couplings, haul-off pads, conveyor belts, shoe soles and heels, adhesives, roll coverings and car tires". SB latex is used to make paper coating for magazines, fliers, catalogs, paperboard products, carpeting, and other textiles.
Since initial research suggested monomers are usually used to manufacture various polymers instead of having their own direct industrial applications, the monomers with the largest production volume, while not necessarily having the widest range of applications themselves, would be popular due to the versatile range of polymers they're able to produce. Those polymers would, subsequently, have a wide-array of industrial applications.