A lot of everyday items are made from polymers. Many of these polymers are not biodegradable - microbes cannot digest them and they take a long time to break down. Polymers are usually disposed of by burying them in landfill sites or burning them in incinerators. These methods of disposal cause environmental problems, and waste valuable resources.
The properties of polymers depend on the structure and bonding found in their molecules. Smart materials such as Gore-Tex® have more useful properties than other polymers.
Monomersmonomer: A monomer is a simple molecule. can join together to form polymerspolymers: Polymers are large molecules formed from many identical smaller molecules (monomers).. Addition polymers are formed from alkenes. For example:
Some polymers are not made from alkene monomers. These are called condensation polymers. Nylon and polyesters are like this. They can be drawn into very fine fibres and woven into cloth for clothing. Often, natural fibres such as cotton are mixed with nylon or polyester fibres to make a soft but hard-wearing cloth.