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The Historical Evolution of PVC
- Oct 16, 2018 -

Polyvinyl chloride was discovered in the United States as early as 1835 by V. Leño, which produced a white solid, polyvinyl chloride, when irradiated with sunlight.

PVC was discovered twice in the 19th century, one in Henry Victor Regnault in 1835 and the other in 1872 by Eugen Baumann. In both opportunities, the polymer appeared in a beaker of vinyl chloride placed under the sun as a white solid. At the beginning of the 20th century, Russian chemist Ivan Ostromislensky and German chemist Fritz Klatte of Griesheim-Elektron tried to use PVC for commercial purposes, but the difficulty was how to process this hard, sometimes brittle polymer.

In 1912, the German Fritz Klatte synthesized PVC and applied for a patent in Germany, but did not develop a suitable product before the patent expired.

In 1926, Waldo Semon of B.F. Goodrich Company of the United States synthesized PVC and applied for a patent in the United States. In 1926, Waldo Semon and B.F. Goodrich Company developed a method of plasticizing PVC by adding various additives, making it a more flexible and easy to process material and quickly becoming widely used commercially.

In 1914, it was found that the use of organic peroxides accelerated the polymerization of vinyl chloride. In 1931, the German company used emulsion polymerization to realize the industrial production of polyvinyl chloride. In 1933, W.L. Simon proposed to use a high boiling point solvent and cresyl phosphate to mix with PVC to process into a soft polyvinyl chloride product, which made a real breakthrough in the practical use of PVC. In the 1936, the British Bunermen Chemical Industry Company, the United States Union Carbide Company and the Goodrich Chemical Company developed the suspension polymerization of vinyl chloride and the processing of PVC. In order to simplify the production process and reduce energy consumption, the French Saint-Gobain Company developed the bulk polymerization method in 1956. In 1983, the world's total consumption was about 11.1Mt, and the total production capacity was about 17.6Mt; it was the second largest plastics after polyethylene production, accounting for about 15% of total plastic production. China's self-designed PVC production plant was piloted in Liaoning Jinxi Chemical Plant in 1956. In 1958, the 3kt plant was officially industrialized. In 1984, the output was 530.9kt.

PVC was industrialized in the early 1930s. Since the 1930s, PVC production has been the No. 1 in world plastics consumption for a long time. In the late 1960s, polyethylene replaced polyvinyl chloride. Although PVC plastics are now in second place, production still accounts for more than a quarter of total plastic production.

Before the 1960s, the production of monomeric vinyl chloride was mainly based on calcium carbide acetylene. Because of the large amount of electricity and coke consumed in the production of calcium carbide, the cost was high. After the industrialization of vinyl chloride production by ethylene oxychlorination in the early 1960s, countries turned to cheaper petroleum as raw materials. In addition, since a large part of the raw material of polyvinyl chloride (about 57% by weight) is inevitably associated with chlorine in the alkali industry, it is not only rich in raw materials, but also one of the important products for developing the chlor-alkali industry and balancing chlorine. Therefore, although the proportion of polyvinyl chloride in plastics has declined, it has maintained a high growth rate.

Polyvinyl chloride plastic products are widely used, but in the mid-1970s, it was recognized that vinyl chloride (VCM), a residual monomer in polyvinyl chloride resin and products, is a serious carcinogen, which will undoubtedly affect the polymerization to a certain extent. The development of vinyl chloride. However, people have successfully reduced the residual VCM by means of automobiles and the like, so that the VCM content of the polyvinyl chloride resin is less than 10 ppm, which meets the requirements of sanitary grade resins, and expands the application range of the polyvinyl chloride. Even the VCM content in the resin can be made less than 5 ppm, and the VCM remaining after the processing is extremely small. It is basically harmless to the human body and can be used as food medicine packaging and children's toys.