Of all the "plastics", poly(ethene) is produced in the largest
quantities. World production of all types of poly(ethene) amounts to
over 50 million tonnes. UK production is about 650 thousand tonnes.
Types of Poly(ethene)
Different production techniques
result in several types of poly(ethene). Different structures lead to
different properties, and so different applications. They are referred
||Low Density Poly(Ethene)
||0.915 - 0.940 g cm-3
||High Density Poly(Ethene)
||0.940 - 0.960 g cm-3
||Linear Low Density Poly(Ethene)
||0.915 - 0.925 g cm-3
In response to concerns over the persistence of synthetic polymers
in the environment, biodegradable
poly(ethene) is also now being made for targeted applications. Click
here to find out more about uses of polythene.
One of the main differences between the types of poly(ethene) is the
degree of branching that occurs in the polymer chains. More branching
leads to a softer plastic as the polymer molecules cannot pack together
well, but a lack of branching can lead to a brittle plastic. Much of
the development in poly(ethene) technology has been directed towards
control of branching and chain length, as well as better control of
the way the polymer chains "stack" together.