Chemistry has affected the advancement of technology all throughout history. Of course through obvious technologies like the television but what about things less expected? What about things used everyday made up of something most people look at as simple? Such as Plastic, consisting of organic chemistry! For plastic affects our lives in many ways. Though you might not believe it plastic is very complex and important to our lives today.
Plastic is more complex than most people think it is. A plastic material contains a wide range of moldable synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids. Plastics are typically organic polymers of high molecular mass and are most commonly derived from petrochemicals. The elements that are in plastic are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, chlorine, and sulfur. Carbon and hydrogen are the most common.
Plastikos, Greek for the word plastic, meaning capable of being shaped or molded, is from plastos meaning molded. It refers to a plastic’s malleability, or plasticity during manufacture. Malleability allows plastics to be molded or pressed into a variety of shapes. These shapes include films, fibers, plates, tubes, bottles, boxes, etc.
The first plastic material was manufactured in the 1850s, however it was not like the plastic we use today. Alexander Parkes created this first material, which had a larger cellulose base in it than the plastic we use today. It was a mix of camphor and alcohol with cellulose treated with nitric acid as a solvent. He publicly demonstrated his invention in 1862 at the Great International Exhibition in London as Parkesine.
Even though Alexander Parkes was the first to create a material close to plastic of today’s time, he was not the only one that contributed. In 1868 John Wesley Hyatt discovered the process of making celluloid, the first artificial plastic. He was actually trying to find a substitute for ivory in billiard balls for the New York Billiards Company. The company was offering a $1000 reward to any who could complete the task of finding an ivory substitute in billiard balls. Hyatt kept working on his experiments and eventually discovered that by mixing nitrocellulose with camphor, and alcohol and then pressing the mixture in a heated mold would create a practical plastic material. This celluloid was a very helpful material and contributed to the evolution of plastic.
Leo Hendrik Baekeland also contributed by creating Bakelite, the first plastic...