Introduction to polymers
Introduction to polymers

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Introduction to polymers

3 Manufacture of monomers

3.1 Primary sources of synthetic polymers

The most important primary sources of synthetic polymers are crude oil, natural gas and, to a minor extent, coal. Because all are primarily fuels rather than sources of materials, the manufacture of polymers is susceptible to changes in price or supply. However, this is also true of other materials, since fuel costs are an important component of metal, ceramic and glass manufacture where very high reaction temperatures are needed for reduction of ore to metal and/or smelting. Where polymer manufacture is different is in the range of sources of the basic building blocks for the polymer repeat units. Both oil and natural gas can be used to make polyethylene for example. In parallel with the advances that have been made in polymerization and polymer structures, there have been major advances in making intermediates more efficiently using tailor-made catalysts. A wider variety of intermediate petrochemicals is also now available, particularly for speciality materials.

T838_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has over 40 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus