While the applications of styrene and polystyrene are somewhat similar, the two have different chemical compositions and properties, which we explore in this blog.
Styrene, also known as ethenylbenzene or vinylbenzene, is an organic compound and a derivative of benzene. It is a colourless oily liquid that is extensively used to make polystyrene plastics, fibreglass, synthetic rubber, and latex. Polystyrene is, in fact, styrene that has undergone chemical alterations to form a stable plastic compound.
While it occurs naturally in some fruits, vegetables, nuts and meats, synthetic styrene is manufactured as the chemical base for polystyrene and other derivatives. Styrene is then polymerised to become polystyrene.
The unaltered styrene chemical compound does not have any insulation and thermal-efficient properties. It evaporates fast, and it is easily flammable. Its sweet odour becomes very unpleasant and pungent in high concentrations.
Styrene is toxic, irritant and harmful to health. By comparison, the chemically stable polystyrene displays the properties that make it ideal for thermo-insulation and cushioning, while being non-toxic and safe to use.
Polystyrene (PS) is an inert plastic and polymer made of fused styrene molecules. It appears as a hard, transparent and glassy polymer with broad applications for a variety of consumer products and commercial uses.
Polystyrene foam or expanded polystyrene (EPS) is made of expanded polystyrene beads. It contains more than 95% air, which gives its lightweight properties. EPS is extensively used in applications ranging from food containers and protective packaging to insulating sandwich panels, because of its excellent insulation and cushioning properties.
Non-toxic and safe, EPS is approved for direct contact with foods and beverages as a clean, fresh and affordable option for packaging and transportation. It is incorrectly associated with Styrofoam, which refers to the US trademarked name for the extruded polystyrene (XPS), and not the expanded polystyrene variety.
Isowall Group produces expanded polystyrene (EPS) under the brand Isolite, which are used primarily for insulation, lightweight fillers and semi-rigid cushioning.
Isowall is the supplier of choice within Africa for Insulated Sandwich Panel, EPS and EPP products. Contact us for more information.