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POLYURETHANE AND FOAM RUBBER

V. Ryan © 2015

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OTTO BAYER
 
In the 1930s, Germany lead the world in the development of chemicals and plastics. In1937, Otto Bayer mixed two chemicals, polyol (an alcohol) and isocyanate (sometimes called isonitrile or carbylamine). The two chemicals formed a solid plastic. The resulting plastic was polyurethane (PUR), a new plastic. However, occasionally when the process was repeated, something different happened. Sometimes the chemicals were contaminated with water and when mixed, a significantly different reaction took place. The chemicals ‘fizzed’ with bubbles and the polyurethane expanded. The resulting plastic is now called foam rubber. Polyurethane was discovered by mistake, although now it has many uses around the home and in manufacturing industry.
Although the two materials polyurethane and foam rubber are virtually the same chemically, they are very different. Polyurethane is a solid plastic (solid resin) and foam rubber is light, soft and flexible. Consequently they have different material properties, all due to the addition of water during the manufacturing process.
 
 
 
MANUFACTURING POLYURETHANE IN A CLASSROOM / LABORATORY
 
 
 
MANUFACTURING FOAM RUBBER IN A CLASSROOM / LABORATORY
 
 
 
 
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