PVC, also known as polyvinyl chloride or simply vinyl, ranks third among the “big three” of synthetic plastic polymers (after polyethylene terephthalate and high-density polyethylene). The unique properties and exceptional versatility of PVC results in its use among an endless array of products thus making it an indispensable part of everyday human lives. In fact, according to market research organization Ceresana, the global demand for PVC is expected to increase about 3.
2% per year until 2021. The synthesization of vinyl chloride dates back to 1835 when French physicist and chemist, Henri Victor Regnault, observed the vinyl chloride appear as a white solid inside flasks of the newly discovered vinyl chloride gas that had been left exposed to sunlight. The material was difficult to work with and no one mastered the challenge of commercial applications.It was not until 1931 when the full scale commercial production of PVC resin began in Germany. From then on, many more companies started to produce PVC and volumes increased dramatically around the world. Developers quickly found further, innovative uses through the decade and refined methods to enhance durability, opening new horizons for its applications in the building trades.Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is an odorless, thermoplastic (a material which becomes soft when heated and hard when cooled) polymer which is most commonly white but can also be colorless or in an amber shade.
It is made up of many vinyl chloride (also known as chloroethene) molecules connected together. These small subunits are called monomers and the long chains of many monomers (generally 10 or more) are called polymers. The properties of a polymer are determined by the properties of its monomer. Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM) is an organochlorine – an organic compound containing at least one covalently bonded atom of chlorine that has an effect on the chemical behavior of the molecule – with the formula CH2=CHCl (or C2H3Cl).
It occurs as a colorless, highly flammable gas with a mild, sweet odor that may emit toxic fumes of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen chloride and phosgene when heated to decomposition.