My friend and I have been struggling with this problem for a couple days. Because polystyrene has a similar structure to many plastics, we assumed that it would dissolve in acetone. However, after running several tests, we found that polystyrene would not dissolve in a measurable quantity even if we let it sit in acetone for a significant amount of time.

You are watching: Why is polystyrene soluble in acetone

Here is the plastic we are attempting to dissolve:

https://imgur.com/rdawCIP

And here is a plastic more easily dissolved:

https://imgur.com/hAVMUsM

We understand that most molecular-bonded plastics dissolve via van der Waals dispersion forces, so why isn"t polystyrene dissolving? My theory is that the benzene ring is interfering with the dissolving process -- that only half the compound of polystyrene is interacting with the acetone and thus it does not dissolve like a polyethylene (which obviously has twice as much surface area to dissolve).

organic-ptcouncil.net solvents plastics
Share
Improve this question
Follow
asked Apr 21 "16 at 1:54

VegetableeggVegetableegg
$\endgroup$
2

2
$\begingroup$
Polystyrene is soluble in acetone, MEK and other ketones, but solubility and the speed with which it dissolves depends, in part, on the molecular mass of the polymer.

If the solvent diffuses very slowly into the polystyrene, only the surface will appear to be affected. Applying a bit of energy with heat or mechanical crushing of the plastic greatly speeds the action of the solvent.

For more technical information, see Solubility Parameters: Theory and Application.

Share
Follow
answered Apr 21 "16 at 18:59

DrMoishe PippikDrMoishe Pippik
$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$
Have you considered monoterpenes as polystyrene solvents? Have a look at:

Shikata et al. (2011) Dissolution of polystyrene into cyclic monoterpenes present in tree essential oils. Journal of Material Cycles and Waste Management 13(2):127-130

Gutiérrez et al. (2012) Recycling of extruded polystyrene wastes by dissolution and supercritical CO2 technology. Journal of Material Cycles and Waste Management 14(4):308-316.

Share
Follow
answered Feb 2 "17 at 11:13

Christine CarsonChristine Carson
1
$\endgroup$
1

Thanks for contributing an answer to ptcouncil.net Stack Exchange!

But avoid

Asking for help, clarification, or responding to other answers.Making statements based on opinion; back them up with references or personal experience.

Use MathJax to format equations. MathJax reference.

See more: How Much Is 200 British Pounds In Us Dollars, 200 Gbp To Usd

Draft saved

Submit

### Post as a guest

Name
Email Required, but never shown

### Post as a guest

Name
Email

Required, but never shown

## Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged organic-ptcouncil.net solvents plastics or ask your own question.

Featured on Meta
Related
8
What organic solvents are suitable to use with potassium permanganate?
28
How do non-polar substances dissolve in non-polar solvents?
2
What Can Dissolve Polypyrrole?
0
Does sorbitol dissolve in ethanol?
1
What are the non-aqueous solvents for sodium polyacrylate?
0
What solvents work on aloe vera?
1
What kind of solvents favor elimination reaction?
4
What chemical could dissolve low-density polyethylene?
Hot Network Questions more hot questions

Question feed

ptcouncil.net
Company
Stack Exchange Network
site design / logo © 2021 Stack Exchange Inc; user contributions licensed under cc by-sa. rev2021.9.24.40305

ptcouncil.net Stack Exchange works best with JavaScript enabled