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Plastics and Polymers

Is glass a polymer?


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March 05, 2012 9:06PM

Yes. Glass is an inorganic polymer. The glass bottle, the window pane, the Swarosky articles you fondly buy. The basic raw materials used in manufacture of glass are silica sand, soda ash, calcium oxide and some trace elements such as cobalt, copper, nickel, manganese, iron and some others to provide it the colour. Other elements that are also used for lowering the melting point are boron, lead and barium. The four valencies of silicone are not linked to silicone alone as wrongly assumed. That is the case with quartz alone. All other glasses contain other cations such as sodium, Potassium, lithium, lead, calcium, aluminum etc as comonomers of silicone.The monovalent cations act as chain blockers, di and tri valent as chain extenders. The typical soda content is 0.4 to 0.5 parts per one part of silicon. Thus if one works out the molar ratio, it would amount to nearly 2 moles of sodium per mole of silicone. Potassium and Lithium can also be used for clipping the valance of silicone. This helps in reducing the melt viscosity, the melting temperature and workability of glass. The glass is so much of a polymer that the entire plastic processing has been lifted from glass processing industry which was already 100 years old when polymers of organic origin were invented.. All the forms of plastics, such as sheet, blow molded products and best of all fibres existed with glass. There is no difference in the manufacturing process of glass articles and plastic articles. Both are melt processed. Only difference is the operating temperature for glass which is much higher than the commercial polymers. The role of calcium, aluminum is to provide chain extension and that of the transition elements is to provide colour. The glass technologist believes the glass to be colloidal substance which in today's parlance would mean some thing undefined. But this is far from the truth. Time has come to accept glass, sodium silicate and Portland's cement are all inorganic polymers. I have been saying it for over 25 years now.