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Aftermath of polymerization of EtOH

  1. Dec 16, 2012 #1
    In a very similar way to my first post ever, a short series of reactions came to mind that could be seen as apparent magic. You could use it for gaining instantaneous fame in a party, convincing people into pay attention to chemistry in basic levels of education and in conjunction with a time machine you could use it for making people believe you are a real magician.
    In a recipient of any kind, high-purity ethanol, which can be bought pretty much everywhere, is mixed with sulfuric acid. The ethanol becomes ethene. (Does it become some sort of equilibrium situation there?). Now, the ethene is polymerized with FeCl3 and polyethylene appears "magically". These two reactions are easy to understand for me. What bugs me is the aftermath. If done in any glass-lab recipient, I can only imagine polyethylene would stick to it, rendering it useless for using it anytime else. So should these reactions be done in something disponsable, like a plastic bottle, for ensuring minimal costs?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 16, 2012 #2
    You could think about putting a thin loop of copper wire into the glass beaker. what I believe may happen is that the reaction will be catalyzed at the metal surface due to higher surface energy relative to glass, and that the solidification of polyethylene will nucleate preferentially on the metal.

    i think you can reuse the wire by melting off the polymer.

    However I never tried this.
     
  4. Dec 17, 2012 #3

    chemisttree

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    BP of ethylene is -108oC
     
  5. Dec 17, 2012 #4
    Chemisttree subtly tries to tell me ethylene is a gas which could escape from an open recipient, and whoever tries to do these reactions should do it in something closed, or in any lab system capable of sending the ethylene, in gas state, to a disponsable bottle for polymerization.
    Am I right?
     
  6. Dec 18, 2012 #5

    chemisttree

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    Yep. Not the kind of reaction you do as a demonstration.
     
  7. Dec 18, 2012 #6
    But....but the reactions....magic....nevermind, thanks for clearing this doubt.
     
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