Polystyrene : Inventention and History

History of polystyrene and how polystyrene was invented

PolystyrenePolystyrene is a synthetic aromatic polymer made from the monomer styrene, a liquid petrochemical. Polystyrene can be rigid or foamed. General purpose polystyrene is clear, hard and brittle. It is a very inexpensive resin per unit weight. It is a rather poor barrier to oxygen and water vapor and has relatively low melting point. Polystyrene is one of the most widely used plastics, the scale of its production being several billion kilograms per year. Polystyrene can be naturally transparent, but can be colored with colorants

Polystyrene was invented in 1839 by Eduard Simon,in Berlin.Polystyrene was made from storax which was a resin of the Turkish sweet gum tree,Eduard Simon distilled an oily substance, a monomer that he named styrol. After several Days he founded that styrol(Polystrne) had thickened,presumably from oxidation, into a jelly he dubbed styrol oxide (“Styroloxyd”).


By 1845 Jamaican-born chemist John Buddle Blyth and German chemist August Wilhelm von Hofmann showed that the same transformation of styrol took place in the absence of oxygen. They called their substance metastyrol. Analysis later showed that it was chemically identical to Styroloxyd. In 1866 Marcelin Berthelot correctly identified the formation of metastyrol/Styroloxyd from styrol as a polymerization process. About 80 years later it was realized that heating of styrol starts a chain reaction that produces macromolecules, following the thesis of German organic chemist Hermann Staudinger (1881–1965). This eventually led to the substance receiving its present name, polystyrene.

Then after companies began manufacturing polystyrene in hoping it would be a suitable replacement for die-cast zinc in many applications. Success was achieved when they developed a reactor vessel that extruded polystyrene through a heated tube and cutter, producing polystyrene in pellet form.


styro Foam