On March 12, 1933, scientists at British Imperial Chemical Industries succeeded in producing polyethylene for the first time, one of the most versatile thermoplastic polymers.
Polyethylene (PE) is a thermoplastic polymer produced by chain polymerization of ethene (CH2 = CH2) with the simplified structural formula [-CH2-CH2-]n. It belongs to the group of polyolefins and is partially crystalline and non-polar. PE is by far the most commonly used plastic worldwide. For the most part, PE is used as packaging material. PE is characterized by high chemical resistance, good electrical insulation and a good sliding behavior. But the mechanical properties are only moderate compared to other plastics.
In 1939 commercial production began for films and insulating materials. In its original form, it is colorless translucent to milky white, but can be made by coloring in any color. Polyethylene is odorless and tasteless. Therefore, it is particularly suitable for the food industry and the drinking water supply. It is shock and impact resistant, absorbs almost no moisture and is resistant to water, acids and salt solutions. PE is used in the production of pipe and hose lines, foils, gears and as insulation material in the cable industry. And PE belongs to the polymer materials that are reusable without loss of quality.