3.12 Polymers

Polymers are commercially important materials that have many uses in modern society.
The ways in which different types of polymers are formed are studied together with the properties and typical uses of polymers. Problems associated with the reuse or disposal of different types of polymer are also considered.

Biodegradability and disposal of polymers - Polyalkenes are chemically inert and therefore non-biodegradable. Polyesters and polyamides can be broken down by hydrolysis and are, therefore, biodegradable [mechanisms not required]. The advantages and disadvantages of different methods of disposal of polymers, including recycling. Students should be able to: • explain why polyalkenes are chemically inert • explain why polyesters and polyamides can be hydrolysed. Research opportunity Students could research problems associated with the
Condensation polymers - Condensation polymers are formed by reactions between: • dicarboxylic acids and diols • dicarboxylic acids and diamines • amino acids. Know the linkage of the repeating units in polyesters (eg Terylene) and polyamides (eg nylon 6,6 and Kevlar)  Typical uses of these polymers Students should be able to: • draw the repeating unit from monomer structure(s) • draw the repeating unit
Addition polymers - [This topic is common to both ‘Alkenes (AS)‘ and ‘Polymers (A2)‘ and links to GCSE topics of ‘Polymers from oil’ and ‘Polymer structure and intermolecular forces‘] Addition polymers are formed from alkenes and substituted alkenes. Poly(alkenes) like alkanes are unreactive (chemically inert and therefore non-biodegradable). Appreciate that knowledge and understanding of the production and properties of polymers has developed over time. Typical uses of poly(ethene) and