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Polystyrene (PS)

Last updated: November 5, 2018

What Does Polystyrene (PS) Mean?

Polystyrene is a versatile synthetic organic polymer with the chemical formula (C8H8)n. It can be a hard, solid plastic or a foam. Polystyrene is chemically resistant to both acids and bases, but is easily dissolved by many chlorinated and aromatic hydrocarbon solvents.

Polystyrene is used to make a wide variety of consumer products, appliances, electronics, automobile parts, toys, gardening pots, equipment and more. A foam material can also be made from polystyrene. Foamed polystyrene is commonly used for chemicals packaging.


Corrosionpedia Explains Polystyrene (PS)

Polystyrene is a vinyl organic polymer. It has a long hydrocarbon chain structure, with a phenyl group attached to every other carbon atom. Polystyrene is produced from the monomer styrene through free radical vinyl polymerization. Polystyrene is also a component of a hard rubber called poly(styrene-butadiene-styrene) SBS rubber. SBS rubber is also a thermoplastic elastomer.

Polystyrene can be either a solid or foam. Commonly used polystyrene is transparent, hard and brittle. It is a poor barrier to oxygen and water vapor and has a relatively low melting point. Since it is a thermoplastic polymer, it has a solid (glassy) state at room temperature and flows if heated above 100 °C (212 °F). When cooled, it becomes rigid again. Polystyrene is readily softened and molded upon heating above its glass transition temperature.

Polystyrene is attacked by many organic solvents, which dissolve the polymer. Crazing occurs in amorphous polystyrene. When crazing occurs in high impact polystyrene (HIPS) blends it provides a mechanism of inelastic deformation that improves the material's toughness. Extruded polystyrene is nearly as strong as unalloyed aluminium, but more flexible and lighter.

Polystyrene biodegrades very slowly and is therefore increasingly abundant as a form of litter in the outdoor environment. It fills more space in landfills than paper.


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Materials SelectionCorrosionScientific PropertiesSubstancesChemical Property PlasticsOrganic Compound

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