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Polystyrene

Hazards

Toluene is flammable and toxic. Avoid breathing the fumes.

Chemicals and Solutions

Toluene

Materials

  • Styrofoam cups
  • Dishes Water
  • "Eco-Foam" starch based packing material (from American Excelsior Co. Arlington, Texas 76011)

Procedure

  1. Dissolve some pieces of styrofoam in toluene. (Like dissolves like! The toluene is like a black hole for styrofoam.)
  2. Allow the solution to evaporate in the hood. The clear film residue remaining after the toluene evaporates is also polystyrene.
  3. Dissolve some of the starch "Eco-foam" packing pellets in water: like dissolves like again!
  4. Try dissolving the styrofoam in water and the "eco-foam" in toluene. They do not dissolve.

Discussion

Polystyrene has the following structure:

diagram of the molecular structure of polystyrene

The structure of toluene is:

diagram of the molecular structure of toluene

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