When it comes to what raw materials are used to make plastic, it is important to understand that there are many different types of plastics, each created through use of various raw materials. Generally, plastics are derived from either natural gas, oil, coal, or plants.
The most common raw material used to make plastic is natural gas. Natural gas is a non-renewable source of energy, as it is composed of methane and other gases. It is cost-effective and versatile, making it most commonly used source of plastic. Natural gas is processed in a refinery to produce ethane, which is then sent to a polymerization unit and converted into a plastic-like material called Polyethylene. Polyethylene is lightweight, flexible, and durable and can be used to make a wide variety of products, from plastic bags to food containers.
Oil is another common raw material used to make plastic. Oil is refined in a processing plant to produce chemicals called feedstocks. Feedstocks are then mixed with catalysts and other chemicals to create a variety of different plastic types. For example, Polypropylene is derived from propylene, which is a feedstock derived from oil. Polypropylene is used to make soft plastic products such as food containers and plastic packaging.
Coal is also used to make plastic. Coal is a non-renewable source of energy, composed of organic matter and carbon. In a processing plant, coal is mixed with other chemicals and heated to create a synthetic gas. This gas is then processed in a polymerization unit to produce a plastic-like material called Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). PVC is widely used to make pipes, vinyl siding, and other durable products.
Finally, plants are another raw material used to create plastic. Plants are renewable sources of energy that are converted into plastic through a process called polymerization. Polymers derived from plants are called bioplastics, and they are typically made from vegetable oils, starches, and cellulose. Bioplastics are used in applications such as food containers, medical supplies, and packaging.
All of these raw materials are essential to production of plastics and affect characteristics of finished product. By understanding types of raw materials used to make plastic, you can better determine which kind of plastic is best suited for your needs.