Plastics Fibers And Paints Are Made From Fossil Fuels

The hydrocarbons are in a high-energy state. The release of this energy by combustion is the reason these materials are useful as fuels. This is also one of the reasons these compounds are valuable as chemical feed stock. Many of the chemicals made from hydrocarbons could be made from farm waste such as straw or leaves. However, a great deal of energy is required to convert the farm waste to the type of chemicals extracted from hydrocarbons. The high-energy state of the hydrocarbons allows the low cost manufacture of a host of materials that have become critical for civilization.57,58

The plastics industry and all the products made from plastics are almost entirely dependent on chemicals extracted or produced from hydrocarbons. This includes not only the familiar materials such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), epoxies, nylon, polyesters, polycarbonate, Teflon® and Plexiglas, but also includes a large portion of materials made from rubber and a diverse group of other materials formulated from polymers such as tape, glue, ink, waterproofing, wax, and polishes. Virtually all the synthetic fibers used in textile products, Orion®, Dacron®, Nylon® and polyesters are made from polymers based on hydrocarbons.

Crawford, Mark, "Back to the Energy Crisis", Science, Vol. 235, February 6,1987, Page 626 V

55 Hirsch, Robert L., "Impending United States Energy Crisis, Science, Vol. 235, March 20,1987, Page 1467

56 Storck, William, "Many Petrochemicals Face Supply Problems", Chemical and Engineering News, April 27,1987, Page 17

57 Spitz, Peter, "Petrochemicals: The Rise of an Industry", John Wiley and Sons Inc., One Wiley Drive, Somerset NJ, 1988

58 Bacha, John D., Newman, John W., and White, J. L., "Petrochemical - Derived Carbons", Editors; ACS Symposium Series 303, The American Chemical Society, 1986

Over the last 30 years, the paint industry has become almost completely dependent on materials manufactured from hydrocarbons. Paints made from plant-derived materials such as linseed oil are still produced but latex, epoxy, and urethane-based coatings are made from hydrocarbons. Most of the solvents used in formulating both (plant-derived) oil based and, synthetic paints are extracted or synthesized from hydrocarbons. In many cases the plant derived product, still in use, is reacted with hydrocarbon derived chemicals to improve the film strength, cut the drying time or alter the plant material in some other desirable manner.

So it goes, all day long. The outside of the house is protected with hydrocarbon paint or possibly hydrocarbon derived vinyl plastic siding. In the car the dashboard, steering wheel, carpet, paint, lights, tires, belts, hoses, and in some cars the fenders, are hydrocarbon materials. Hydrocarbon-derived lubricants aid the proper function of the mechanical systems. The desk top at work, the light fixtures, the writing pen, the typewriter case, the computer case, the computer tape, the floppy disk, the hammer handle, the toolbox, and an almost endless stream of materials that make our lives pleasant, easier and more productive, are directly produced from hydrocarbon materials.

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Guide to Alternative Fuels

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