Polyethylene, a member of the important family of polyolefin resin, is the most widely used plastic in the world.
The commercial process (the Ziegler-Natta catalysts) that made PE such a success was developed in the 1950s by 2 scientists, Karl Ziegler of Germany and Giulio Natta of Italy.
Polyethylene is made by addition or radical polymerization of ethylene (olefin) monomers. (Chemical formula of Ethene - C2H4). Ziegler-Natta and Metallocene catalysts are used to carry out polymerization of polyethylene.
Polyethylene is a lightweight, durable thermoplastic with variable crystalline structure. It is one of the most widely produced plastics in the world (tens of millions of tons are produced worldwide each year).
Polyethylene, like other plastics, starts with the distillation of hydrocarbon fuels (ethane in this case) into lighter groups called «fractions», some of which are combined with other catalysts to produce plastics (typically via polymerization or polycondensation).
There are several types of polyethylene, and each one is best suited for a different set of applications.
Generally speaking, High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) is much more crystalline, and is often used in entirely different circumstances than Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE).
For example, LDPE is widely used in plastic packaging, such as for grocery bags or plastic wrap.
HDPE, by contrast, has common applications in construction (for example, in its use in the fabrication of drain pipes).
Ultrahigh Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMW) has high-performance applications in things such as medical devices and bulletproof vests.
Polyethylene is used in applications ranging for films, tubes, plastic parts, laminates, etc. in several markets (packaging, automotive, electrical, etc.).