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Write the research paper on a natural or synthetic polymer assigned to you . 

1. History of polymer

2. Origin, structure and synthesis

3. Importance to society

4. Advantages and disadvantages

5. Uses

6. Environmental impact

History of Polymer

The history of polymer (in general) commenced way back in 19th century whereas silica glass, alumina and phosphoric acid re used to fill the dentures.  However, the formed compounds have significantly high solubility but very low mechanical strength. Polymers are mainly divided into two groups natural polymer (natural rubber, cellulose, starch) and synthetic polymer (fibers, plastics, rubbers). Nearly 80% of the polymers are termed as synthetic polymers. Polymeric materials consists high molecular weight molecules with order of 103 - 107(Ellefesn & Tonnesen, 1971).  The natural occurring polymers are cellulose, protein, resins, lignin, rubber which are available for several centuries. Natural cellulose is the principal element of plant cell walls.  It was first recognized by Anselme Payen in 1838. In the year 1870, first derivative from cellulose (termed as rayon) was formed by Hyatt Manufacturing Company. Further, it was chemically synthesized by Kobhayashi and Shoda without using any enzymes in 1992. The organic monomers of cellulose for polymer productions are mainly collected from agriculture, wood, plant, cotton.  The scientific and engineering aspects are taken into consideration in the research of cellulose polymer formation in order to form new derivatives of polymers and with minimum cost and as per the demand (Shoda & Sugano, 2005).

Cellulose is considered as one of the more critical and abundant occurring polymers on earth because it has been used as main raw material for several products. The basic structure of any plant cell walls comprises of three main elements which are highlighted below (Nishino, 2004): 

  • 33% vegetable
  • 90% cotton
  • 50% wood

It is essential to note that it has been found in nearly pure (98%) form in cotton fiber combined with lignin or hemicellulose.

The chemical formula of Cellulose is  It is long chain complex structural of carbohydrate or polysaccharides comprise 3000 or more units of glucose (Brown & Laborie, 2007).

  • Its odorless and tasteless
  • Cellulose contains 6-6.5% of hydrogen, 44-45% of carbon and rest amount is oxygen
  • Crystalline and straight chain homo-polymer
  • Hydrophilic in nature
  • -OH groups connected with chain by hydrogen bond
  • Distance between carbon-carbon bonds is 1.9 A0and carbon – oxygen bond is 2.1 A0.
  • Contact angle 20-300
  • Melts at 4670C
  • At high temperature and with the presence of concentrated mineral acid, it can be decomposed into glucose (Georgopoulos, et,. al., 2005).

Figure 1: Molecular Structure of Cellulose

The above highlighted structure represents that celloboise units are the repeating units which represent reduction in right side and non-reduction in the left side of group. Further, the length of cellulose chain would mainly depend on the type of source of cellulose monomer (Bledzki, Reihmane & Gassan, 1996).

  • The cellulosic material would be collected from different agriculture wastes or from wood.
  • The carbohydrate part of material that would not dissolve in 17.5% solution of NaOH at 200C which is termed as ∝- cellulose (true cellulose).
  • The true cellulose would be dissolved in CH3COOH and HNO3in order to remove xylosans, hemicellulose and lignin.
  • Further, the final cellulose would allow reacting with anthrone in the presence of H2SO
  • After the reaction between cellulose and anthrone, a colored compound would be made which needs to be assayed spectrophotometrically so that the wavelength of the compound would be nearly 635 nanometers.
  • The final compound would be termed as pure cellulosic from wood, agriculture and so forth (Georgopoulos, et,. al., 2005).

There are many processes that have been taken into consideration to form different cellulosic derivatives. Further, it is essential to note that cellulose esters and cellulose ethers are manufactured based on heterogeneous reactions with the help of acids and the respective acid anhydrides (March, 1994).

In the modern world, it has been found that the demand for disposable materials is increasing from various process industries. This also results in significant load on environment.  Hence, the main focus is to utilize the disposable components in such a way that would not only environment friendly but also has some economic value to the society.  In this regards, the cellulose which is abundantly available in nature and also is a by-product of many production units can be used to produce bio-fuels, renewable based fuels (Georgopoulos, et,. al., 2005). This plays an imperative role to minimize the total burden of non-renewable fuels because cellulose based bio-fuels are easier and cheaper to produce. Significant amount of fuel would be produced from cellulose because of the unique chemical structure of cellulose. This is considered as versatile material and superior platform to produce bio-energy that can be used for several energy saving purposes (Rose, et. al.,2010).



  • Cellulose has good processing features which are easy to handle and transport even for long distance (Zimmermann, Pöhler, & Schwaller, 2005). It also results from higher yield production process with defined and uniform quality fiber. (bio fuel)
  • Cellulose also has good loose fitting at low cost against any structure (pipe, wiring) which is more advantages when thermal insulation is required.  (Thermal performance)
  • This also plays a pivotal role in sound insulation process. This is cheaper and easy to handle option as compared with other sound reduction material. (Sound reduction)
  • Cellulose insulation is also considered as long term cost saving material (March, 1994).
  • This also has significant utility in mold control and pest control in combination with concentrated boric acid.
  • Class I cellulose also provides fire retardation which is an advantageous in safety rating.


  • Installation of cellulose insulation is difficult and time consuming. It also creats significant with high amount of dust and also requires inadequate fixture or holes. Additionally, it affects the working of duct by creating additional dust in the space (Georgopoulos, et,. al., 2005).
  • It has been observed that loose cellulose fitting is three time in weight as compared with loss fiberglass. Hence, additional space is required for the insulation.
  • Cellulose also has high moisture and absorbency property which negatively impacts the drying cost.
  • Cellulose cannot be used for high thermal resistive application.
  • This is also not compatible with hydrophobic polymer matrix.
  • The cellulose is received from different plant source and hence, significant probability of variation in quality of finished product.

Cellulose has several essential usages which are listed below:

  • Cellulose is considered as one of the main constituents in paper manufacturing process.
  • It is having major role in the research lab because its solid state subtracts is used in thin layer chromatography.
  • It is used as anticaking agent in most of the filtration processes.
  • Cellulose is also used as gelling agent, emulsifier and dispersing agent, insulation.
  • Cellulose is also used in the manufacturing of cellophane and in rayon especially for textile industry generated from beech wood cellulose.
  • It is also has wide range of application as water –soluble thickener and stabilizer and binding to the water. This property is used in the process of thickening of shampoos and conditioners.  This also enhances the ability of shampoo or soap to increase the formation of colloids around the dirt particles (Georgopoulos, et,. al., 2005).
  • Microcrystalline cellulose has essential usages in food industry because of the tableting and binding property.  Cellulose also enhances the volume and texture and makes them cloudy especially in sauces. One of critical derivative i.e. methylcellulose is used in the bakery industry especially in the production of gluten free bakery food items (Dufresne, 2008).
  • The below highlighted table represents the derivative of cellulose and their use in respective industry (March, 1994).

Derivative of cellulose


Ethyl cellulose

Pharmaceutical industry, paints, coating

Ehydroxylethyl cellulose


Methyl cellulose

Textile, tobacco, food , films industry

Carboxymethyl cellulose

Paints, coating, adhesive, pharmaceutical

Cellulose xanthate


Cellulose nitrate

Explosive, membranes

Cellulose acetate

Membranes, coating

Environmentalists agree that recycling and disposal of waste material in an economic and environment friendly manner is a pivotal challenge faced by severed countries. From empirical researches, it can be said that the synthetic polymeric plastics requires higher than 100 years for decomposed (Pothan,, 2007).  The new mission in this regards can be viewed as shown below:

“Standard input materials currently used in the plastics industry have been almost completely petro-chemical based. Companies are now seeking to substitute petroleum-based products, like plastics and polymers, with sustainable raw materials.” 

The substitutes can be natural polymers such as cellulose. This is because the current research suggests that cellulose polymer can be treated as environmentally friendly cellulosic derivative which can be utilized for biofuels after their disposal. In this regards, the example of strata Plast C plastics can be taken into consideration which is a newly generated derivative from cellulose polymer. This plastic is considerably low in cost, easy to operate, and has high durability, high strength and can be decomposed in 7-8 weeks (Bledzki & Gassan, 1999). After discussing the product life cycle analysis (LCA) of various derivative of cellulose, it has been found that cellulose has low environmental impact. Further, after the decomposition of this cellulosic plastic (strata Plast C plastics), the decomposed material would be sent back to the soil which are returns a part of nutrient back to earth. Moreover, many of the material synthesized from natural cellulose polymer would be bio-degradable and thus, this would be termed as an excellent aspect for the environment. Therefore, it can be concluded that that use of cellulose instead of other synthetic polymers would be positive for the environmental (Wang,, 2007).


Bledzki, A., Reihmane, K. & Gassan, J. (1996) “Properties and modification methods for vegetable fibers for natural fiber composites,” Journal of Applied Polymer Science, vol. 59, no. 8, pp. 1329–1336.   

Bledzki, K. &  Gassan, J. (1999)“Composites reinforced with cellulose based fibres,” Progress in Polymer Science, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 221–274.   )

Brown E.  & Laborie, M. (2007) “Bioengineering bacterial cellulose/poly(ethylene oxide) nanocomposites,” Biomacromolecules, vol. 8, no. 10, pp. 3074–3081.  

Dufresne, A. (2008) “Polysaccharide nanocrystals reinforced nanocomposites,” Canadian Journal of Chemistry, vol. 86, pp. 484–494.  

Ellefesn, O. & Tonnesen, B. (1971) Cellulose and Cellulose Derivatives Part IV. (5th ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons.   

Georgopoulos, S., Tarantili, E. Avgerinos, A. Andreopoulos, &  Koukios, E. (2005) “Thermoplastic polymers reinforced with fibrous agricultural residues,” Polymer Degradation and Stability, vol. 90, no. 2, pp. 303–312.   

Nishino, T.  (2004). “Natural fiber sources,” in Green Composites: Polymer Composites and the Environment. Fla: CRC Press, Boca Raton.   

Pothan, L., George, C. Jacob, M.  & Thomas, S.  (2007) “Effect of chemical modification on the mechanical and electrical properties of banana fiber polyester composites,” Journal of Composite Materials, vol. 41, no. 19, pp. 2371–2386.   

Rosa, M, Medeiros, E. Malmonge J.  et al., (2010) “Cellulose nanowhiskers from coconut husk fibers: effect of preparation conditions on their thermal and morphological behavior,” Carbohydrate Polymers, vol. 81, no. 1, pp. 83–92.   

Shoda M.  & Sugano, Y.  (2005) “Recent advances in bacterial cellulose production,” Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 1–8.  March, J.  (1994) Advantages Organic Chemistry. (75th ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Wambua, J. Ivens, & Verpoest, I. (2003) “Natural fibres: can they replace glass in fibre reinforced plastics?” Composites Science and Technology, vol. 63, no. 9, pp. 1259–1264.   (Wambua, Ivens, & Verpoest, 2003)

Wang, B., Panigrahi, S. Tabil, L.  & Crerar, W. (2007) “Pre-treatment of flax fibers for use in rotationally molded biocomposites,” Journal of Reinforced Plastics and Composites, vol. 26, no. 5, pp. 447–46.  

Zimmermann, T. Pöhler, E.& Schwaller, P.  (2005) “Mechanical and morphological properties of cellulose fibril reinforced nanocomposites,” Advanced Engineering Materials, vol. 7, no. 12, pp. 1156–1161.   

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