Commercial Importance of Alkenes

Commercial Importance of Alkenes

– Because the carbon–carbon double bond is readily converted to other functional groups, alkenes are important intermediates in the synthesis of polymers, drugs, pesticides, and other valuable chemicals.

– Ethylene is the organic compound produced in the largest volume, at around 160 billion pounds per year worldwide.

– Most of this ethylene is polymerized to form about 90 billion pounds of polyethylene per year.

– The remainder is used to synthesize a wide variety of organic chemicals including ethanol, acetic acid, ethylene glycol, and vinyl chloride.

Commercial Importance of Alkenes
Uses of ethylene. Ethylene is the largest-volume industrial organic chemical. Most of the 160 billion pounds produced each year is polymerized to make polyethylene. Much of the rest is used to produce a variety of useful two-carbon compounds.

– Ethylene also serves as a plant hormone, accelerating the ripening of fruit.

– For example, tomatoes are harvested and shipped while green, then treated with ethylene to make them ripen and turn red just before they are placed on display.

– Propylene is produced at the rate of about 90 billion pounds per year worldwide, with much of that going to make about 40 billion pounds of polypropylene.

– The rest is used to make propylene glycol, acetone, isopropyl alcohol, and a variety of other useful organic chemicals.

Alkenes as polymers

– Polymers is one of the common Commercial Importance of Alkenes

– Many common polymers are made by polymerizing alkenes.

Commercial Importance of Alkenes
Uses of propylene. Most propylene is polymerized to make polypropylene. It is also used to make several important three-carbon compounds

– These polymers are used in consumer products from shoes to plastic bags to car bumpers.

– A polymer (Greek, poly, “many,” and meros, “parts”) is a large molecule made up of many monomer (Greek, mono, “one”) molecules.

– An alkene monomer can polymerize by a chain reaction where additional alkene molecules add to the end of the growing polymer chain.

– Because these polymers result from addition of many individual alkene units, they are called addition polymers.

– Polyolefins are polymers made from monofunctional (single functional group) alkenes such as ethylene and propylene.

– The following Figure shows some addition polymers made from simple alkenes and haloalkenes.

Commercial Importance of Alkenes
Addition polymers. Alkenes polymerize to form addition polymers. Many common polymers are produced this way.

– We discuss polymerization reactions in the following subjects.

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