chapter  2
78 Pages

Polystyrenes and Other Aromatic Poly(vinyl compound)s

WithOskar Nuyken

Discovery of the styrene monomer is credited to Newman [1] who isolated it by steam distillation from liquid amber, which contains cinnamic acid, yielding styrene via decarboxylation. The first polymerization was described by Simon [2]. Commercial styrene polymerization was begun about 1925 [3]. Cracking of ethylbenzene became the major manufacturing route for the monomer. The first commercialization was based on bulk polymerization using the can process [4,5]. Polystyrene production has grown by an average of 2.8% per year over the last 10 years, reaching 8 500 000 metric tons worldwide in 1995 [6]. The most general-purpose polystyrene is produced by solution polymerization in a continuous process with the aid of peroxide initiation. Suspension polymerization is used for products for which a small spherical form is desirable. Emulsion polymerization is the method of choice for ABS resins.