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Polymerisation

In this worksheet, students will study the chemical structure of polymers and their uses according to their properties.

'Polymerisation ' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

Curriculum topic:  Chemistry: Chemical and Allied Industries

Curriculum subtopic:  Carbon Compounds

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Think of the most important things in your life – your phone, your Switch, your vacuum cleaner (if you like having a clean bedroom). They will all be made with plastics in them. Plastics where a revolution in chemistry – suddenly it was cheap and easy to make basically everything and humans embraced plastics like the new future. It is easy to be critical of the overuse of plastics now, after all we know how much harm they can do to the environment, but back in the day, they were super.

 

The manufacture of plastics comes from oil. Polymers are very big molecules with long chains and they are made from many small molecules called monomersPoly- means many, mono- means one. When you stick together loads of monomers, you get a polymer – most of the time this is a plastic.

Ever heard of the plastic Polypropane? Well, you can get the name of the polymer if you add the prefix poly- before the name of the monomer. For example, poly(propane) is used to make ropes; lots of propane molecules form a long chain.


So – there are a few words you need to know when talking about polymers. Alkene is the big one here. In the diagram below, on the left-hand side, you can see an alkene. If you look in between the two carbons, you can see that there is a double bond (two lines). This is what makes an alkene. If it has a carbon-carbon double bond then it is ripe for being made into a plastic.

 

An image showing how an alkene is made into a long chain polymer.

 

So – how do we make a monomer into a polymer?

 

All we do is a chemical reaction that breaks apart one of the double bonds in the Alkene. When this is broken, it is freed up to bond with another alkene. This process means that one alkene can bond to make a chain of two, and then three and then four and you get the idea until the chains are hundreds of bonds long.

 

“But I know that there are loads of different types of plastics – what makes them different?”

 

Good question – it’s all about the length of the chains. Longer chains mean that there are more intermolecular forces (just when we were talking about crude oil). More intermolecular forces mean a harder plastic. Let’s look at a table to illustrate this.

 

Property of plastic Long chains Short chains
Strength Tend to be strong as there are a lot of intermolecular forces.  Tend to be weak as there are not a lot of intermolecular forces. 
Flexibility Tend to be more flexible as there are fewer branches on the polymer chains stopping them from flowing over each other.  Tend to be less flexible as there tend to be more branches on the chains that get caught up in each other and stop the flow. 
Hardness Tend to be less hard and the chains can slide over each other.  Tend to be harder as the chains cannot slide as easily. 
Melting point High melting point as there are more intermolecular forces between long chains Low melting point as there are less intermolecular forces between long chains

 

Is the following sentence true or false?

 

A lot of polymers form a long chain to make a monomer.

True

False

What is the monomer used to make poly(ethylene)?

What do we call the process used to make polymers?

Polyfying

Polyfication

Polymerisation

What do we call the forces that hold the polymer chains to one another? 

What is special about an Alkene?

Select two alkenes compounds.

Alkene

Propene

Poly(ethene)

Methane

What do you need to do to the polymer chain to make it harder? 

Make the chain longer

Make the chain shorter

Make it with a different monomer

A compound contains hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen. Is it a hydrocarbon?

Yes

No

The length of the polymer chain can affect the properties of the plastic made. Name one other thing that will affect the properties of the final material. 

What do we call polymers that dissolve and do not pollute the environment?

  • Question 1

Is the following sentence true or false?

 

A lot of polymers form a long chain to make a monomer.

CORRECT ANSWER
False
EDDIE SAYS
A lot of monomers form a long chain to make a polymer.
  • Question 2

What is the monomer used to make poly(ethylene)?

CORRECT ANSWER
ethylene
EDDIE SAYS
Ethylene is the monomer used to make poly(ethylene). Remember the naming convention - where the monomer is always in brackets after the word poly.
  • Question 3

What do we call the process used to make polymers?

CORRECT ANSWER
Polymerisation
EDDIE SAYS
Polymerisation is the process used to make polymers. you are making polymers, so poly needs to be in the name.
  • Question 4

What do we call the forces that hold the polymer chains to one another? 

CORRECT ANSWER
intermolecular
EDDIE SAYS
The name fo the forces that we need to change when we are looking at all chemical structures is intermolecular - the force between the molecules.
  • Question 5

What is special about an Alkene?

CORRECT ANSWER
Carbon-carbon double bond
Double bond
EDDIE SAYS
There are two 007's in that Alkene - it has a double bond... Sorry... you could have answered carbon-carbon double bond OR I would have just accepted double bond.
  • Question 6

Select two alkenes compounds.

CORRECT ANSWER
Alkene
Propene
EDDIE SAYS
Alkene and propene are alkenes because they have a double bond between their carbon atoms.
  • Question 7

What do you need to do to the polymer chain to make it harder? 

CORRECT ANSWER
Make the chain longer
EDDIE SAYS
In order to make the plastic harder - you need to increase the polymer chain length, this will increase the intermolecular forces.
  • Question 8

A compound contains hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen. Is it a hydrocarbon?

CORRECT ANSWER
No
EDDIE SAYS
Hydrocarbons contain only hydrogen and carbon. - that's why they are called hydrocarbons. Hydro for hydrogen and carbon for carbon.
  • Question 9

The length of the polymer chain can affect the properties of the plastic made. Name one other thing that will affect the properties of the final material. 

CORRECT ANSWER
Branches
EDDIE SAYS
Chain length and branches both affect how easily polymer chains are to pull over each other. This is because they both increase the intermolecular forces in the polymer.
  • Question 10

What do we call polymers that dissolve and do not pollute the environment?

CORRECT ANSWER
Biodegradable polymers
Biodegradable polymer
Biodegradable
EDDIE SAYS
Biodegradable polymers dissolve and do not pollute the environment.
---- OR ----

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