Plastics -The Material of the Century (Part 2)

This article is a continuation of the previous blog: Plastics -The Material of the Century. It focuses on how the application of plastics is such an integral part of the 21st century.

Purifying water safely using synthetic materials

When it comes to the treatment and purification of drinking water, synthetics play a major role. Besides the transport of water, synthetics also play a large role in the treatment and purification of drinking water. The availability of clean drinking water is scarce. At present, there is a shortage in the supply of clean water for approximately 1.1 billion people. The United Nations (UN) has pointed out that 6000 people die every day because of lack of hygiene measures or no access to clean, safe drinking water.

Part of this problem is that 2.4 billion people do not know what to do with their wastewater. It is introduced into the environment without any treatment and purification. One liter of wastewater can pollute eight liters of fresh water.

Vestergaard Frandsen, a Swiss company has developed a transportable water treatment unit, which apparently points it in the right direction. The company Vestergaard Fransen utilizes Ultrason E 6020 P, a polyether sulfone (PESU) created by BASF for their new, portable water purificantion system.

The easy-to-operate water purificantion system is used to purify large amounts of wastewater into drinking water in the villages and families. The central element is a plastic casing which contains filtering membranes made from Ultrason E. The process of ultrafiltration (UF-membranes) removes viruses as well as bacteria from rivers, lakes, rainwater collection barrels or even puddles. The mobile purification system drastically reduces the danger of diseases that are transmitted via dirty water, such as gastrointestinal diseases.

Efficiently Mobile in the Future with Plastics

Plastics boast of excellent characteristics such as being extremely flexible, highly resilient and yet very light. These attributes have boosted the career of plastics in many areas of application.

Reducing weight in vehicles means savings in terms of cost, use of resources and emissions.

For years, plastics-based composite materials have been extremely popular in the car industry. Storage compartment lid, hood, sliding roof, brakes, attenuator, tie rod, hub cap, heating tubes, seat belts, driving belt, air filter, valve lid, airbag, headrests, seat covers – approximately 2000 vehicle parts in body, chassis, motor electrics or interior features are today made from plastics or are based on plastics and the trend continues to increase.

Mufflers that are made from synthetic material are approximately 13 kilograms lighter than conventional equivalents and only take up 50 percent of their space. Also, the waste gas pressure is reduced by half, which means cutting down the emissions of carbon dioxide or enhancement in horsepower.

Green Energy Needs Plastics

The base of commercial solar systems for energy production that is the rotors of wind turbines are made of plastics and synthetic materials. Polymers also play a central role in fuel cell technology.

Even though the majority of synthetic materials is still produced from crude oil and natural gas, renewable raw materials are still increasingly utilized. Fossil resources are too limited for the plastics industry to be solely dependent on them.  All these applications point out to a simple fact that without plastics the future is not possible, making plastic the material of the 21st century.

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