Ethane is a chemical compound in the form of a colorless, odorless gas .

Its chief use is as feedstock for ethylene production.
Ethane is treated (cracked) to make ethylene.

Ethylene is used to make.

Polyethylene (Polythene)

Ethylene is one of the raw materials used to make polyethylene (abbreviated PE) (IUPAC name polyethene or poly(methylene))This is the most common plastic.The annual global production of polythene is approximately 80 million tonnes.

    • High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
    • Cross-linked polyethylene (PEX or XLPE)
    • Medium-density polyethylene (MDPE)
    • Linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE)
    • Low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
    • Very-low-density polyethylene (VLDPE)

PVC polyvinyl chloride

Ethylene and chlorine are raw materials for PVC. Ethylene is chlorinated then cracked to make the  vinyl chloride monomer (VCM). Nearly all VCM is used to make polyvinyl chloride

polystyrene (PS)

Ethylene is  reacted with benzene to make ethylbenzene which is further processed into styrene. The main outlets for styrene are polymers and synthetic rubbers such as polystyrene,acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and styrene butadiene rubber (SBR).

Other Plastics

Ethylene can be oxidised to create ethylene oxide This mostly  used to make ethylene glycol, from which polyester fibres for textile applications, PET resins for bottles and polyester film are made.

Recycling & Biodegradability

These plastics do not biodegrade.

They can be recycled.

Other Uses

ethylene oxide is a poison gas. It is highly flammable and explosive.

It can be used to make weapons

The gas leaves no residue on items it contacts, so can be used  instead of  steam in the sterilization of heat-sensitive tools and equipment, such as disposable plastic syringes.

Other ethylene derivitives are  found in in shampoo, kitchen cleaners, personal care products, etc

A few statistics

Global ethylene production was 107 million tonnes in 2005,[4] 109 million tonnes in 2006.[14] NNFCC Renewable Chemicals Factsheet: Ethanol, 138 million tonnes in 2010 and 141 million tonnes in 2011.[15] By 2010 ethylene was produced by at least 117 companies in 55 countries.[16] To meet the ever increasing demand for ethylene, sharp increases in production facilities are added globally, particularly in the Mideast and in China.[16]

In Abu Dhabi, the Borouge III ethane cracker which will produce 1.5m tonne/year of ethylene is expected to start up 2014.

In Mexico Braskem and Grupo Idesa’s $2.5bn 1m tonne/year ethylene XXI project  is expected to start up in 2015.

Useful Links

Polyethylene (Polythene)

PVC polyvinyl chloride

polystyrene (PS)

PET resins

Wikkipedia  and again market data

Other Plastic Info

Find out about other types of plastic here

Don’t know your crack from you cracking – try this introduction to plastic



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