Uses in Everyday Life

Petrochemicals in Daily Life

Commercial Aircraft
Military Protective Wear
Medicine
Personal Protective Equipment
Food and Beverage Packaging
Construction
Consumer Electronics
Renewable Energy

 

Commercial Aircraft

  • Boeing 787ʼs body will be composed of over 50% reinforced plastics.
  • The new 787 Dreamliner will be 20% more fuel efficient saving more than 260,000 gallons of fuel per year over a comparable sized aircraft due to the light weights of petrochemicals being used to form the exterior of the aircraft.
  • The approximate weight carbon fiber reinforced plastics is 70,000 pounds in one aircraft.
  • Carbon reinforced plastics contain the petrochemicals polycarbonates, maleic anhydride compatabilizers, nylons and epoxy resin.
  • Chemical precursors used are epicholorhydrin, epoxy resin, bisphenol A, acrylonitrile, acetohydrin, propylene, butadiene, cumene and benzene.

 

Commercial Aircraft – Interiors

  1. Floor and Floor Coverings: Made from fiberglass or carbon/epoxy or phenolic/Nomex honeycomb for the floor panels. Wool or nylon are used in the carpet with double-backed tapes to attach carpet to floor and a Nomex felt underlay.
  2. Seats: Made from wool, wool/nylon, or leather upholstery with urethane foam cushions.
  3. Galley Mats: Made from the petrochemical polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
  4. Lower Sidewall Panels: Made from fiberglass or carbon/phenolic/Nomex honeycomb with a scuff- resistant surface (wool or Nomex fabric, or tough plastic).
  5. Upper Sidewall Panels: Made from fiberglass or carbon/phenolic/decorative thermoplastic layer.
  6. Light Covers: Made from the petrochemical polycarbonate.
  7. Overhead Stowage Bins: Made from fiberglass or carbon/phenolic/Nomex honeycomb with an edge urethane foam layer.
  8. Windows: The outer panel is made from stretched acrylic; inner pane cast acrylic; dust cover polycarbonate or acrylic.
  9. Other Items: Flotation Foams (made from polyethylene foam), and Seat Trays (made from thermoplastic).

 

Military Protective Wear

  1. Army Combat Uniforms (ACU): Blend of cotton and nylon, a synthetic fiber produced from petrochemical derivatives including hexamethylene diamine and adipic acid. ACU was designed by soldiers to meet the demands of the current operational environment by increasing a soldierʼs ability to train, adapt and fight in ever-changing environments. Approximately 50% of the ACU is made of nylon.
  2. Military Combat Boots: Utilize a blend of natural and synthetic materials, with over 50% of the boot made from materials that have their origin from crude oil or natural gas. Synthetic materials such as polyurethane, nylon fabric and synthetic rubbers are all used in the military combat boot.
  3. Military Helmets: Made of synthetic materials such as Spectra Shield material (which contains a very high molecular weight, high density polyethylene). Helmets can also be made of Kevlar, another synthetic material derived from petrochemicals.
  4. Military Vests: Made from Kevlar, a carbon-based aramid (a term invented as an abbreviation for aromatic polyamide, or aromatic nylon fiber).
  5. Military Packs: Made of 100% nylon.
  6. Tactical Insertion Accessories: 100% petrochemical-based materials. The material for the rope used when soldiers are fast-roping is from crude oil or natural gas to ethylene to Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE).

 

Medicine

  1. Medical and Surgical Gowns: Reusable medical and surgical gowns are typically 50/50 blend of cotton and polyester, rayon and polyester or similar blended material. Disposable gowns use polypropylene as the main material. Polyester is also used in scrubs. Surgical gowns can be made of specialty polyolefins, nonwoven polyproylene, laminated polypropylene/polyethylene, laminated polyester/wood pulp and other tech-fabrics derived from petrochemicals.
  2. Face Masks: Made from spun-bond irradiated polypropylene, meltblown polyproplene, soft latex-free elastic.
  3. Wound Care: Made from polyester or polyester blends with rayon, wood pulp or other inert material, such as polyurethane, hydrogels and elastomers.
  4. Blood Bags: Made from polyolefin (polyethylene and polypropylene).
  5. Catheters/Tubing: Made from PVC and is the preferred material used as tubing for medical applications. PVC tubes coated with Teflon (PTFE), blends of polyether-ester, ethylene acid copolymer are also used in medical tubing and catheters.
  6. Sutures: Absorbable sutures contain polyglactin, polylactonone, polysorb. Non-absorbable sutures contain nylon, PET, PP and Polybutester.
  7. Surgical Gloves: Contain the petrochemicals latex, polyisoprene, nitrile and neoprene.
  8. Hand Sanitizer: Major ingredients found in Purell and like hand sanitizers are ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol and propylene glycol.
  9. Aspirin: Product made from phenol is salicylic acid and a derivative acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin).

 

Personal Protective Equipment

  1. Protective Clothing: Made from many different varieties of petrochemicals. One of the most widely used fabrics is Nomex, an aramid fiber made by Dupont.
  2. Protective Helmets: Made with synthetic materials made from petrochemical derivatives. Hard hat shells may be made of a thermoplastic, such as polyethylene or polycarbonate resin, or of other materials like resin-impregnated textiles. Also, high-density polyethylene (HDPE), nylon, vinyl, Kevlar and Twaron are used in making a variety of different helmets.
  3. Safety Goggles: Made from plastics such as polycarbonate or polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA).
  4. Face Mask: The simplest face masks are a formed piece of nonwoven polypropylene fabric. More elaborate face masks with a visor that covers the entire face are made from acetate or polycarbonates.
  5. Respiratory Equipment: A facemask and respirator are made with the petrochemicals polyurethane memory foam, polypropylene, elastomer and acrylonitrile-butadine-styrene (ABS).
  6. Hearing Protection: Ear plugs are typically made of polyurethane foam with memory. Ear muffs are 90% petrochemical-based and contain polyurethane, ABS, polyolefin and elastomer.
  7. Protective Footwear: Made from neoprene or other butyl rubber formulations, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polymer-composite and Kevlar.

 

Food and Beverage Packaging

  • Freedonia Group estimates a 7 to 8 percent annual average growth rate (AAGR) in the use of plastic containers in beverages and a 4 to 5 percent AAGR for plastics used in rigid food containers.
  • Plastics in food and beverage packaging is efficient in terms of material source reduction and performance. Plastics production accounts for only 4.6 percent of the nationʼs annual consumption of natural gas and petroleum.
  • Packaging is the largest market for plastics, accounting for only 1.4 percent.
  • Trend analysis of packing materials for the past thirty years shows the high plastic influx rate allows for:
    • Delivering more beverages with less packaging
      • 2 pounds of plastic can deliver 1000 ounces of beverage, where as 3 pounds of aluminum, 8 pounds of steel, and 27 pounds of glass would be needed to deliver the same amount.
    • Making food packaging more efficient
      • Plastic jars use up to approximately 90 percent less material by weight than their glass counterparts and 38 percent less than steel cans.
      • Extremely lightweight and flexible packaging made from plastic or plastic-and-foil composites can use up to 80 percent less material than traditional bag-in-box packages.
    • Eliminating excess packaging.
    • Reducing transportation energy use.
  • Food packaging that uses petrochemical-based plastics can serve both as the rigid container and the outside flexible layer. They are made of pholyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyvinyle chloride (PVC), high density polyethylene (HDPE), low density polyethylene (LDPE), linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), polystyrene (PS), polypropylene (PP).
  • Beverage containers are made from petrochemical-based plastics such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or high density polyethylene (HDPE).

 

Construction

  1. Walls: Structural insulation panels (SIPs) made with expanded polystyrene (EPS) help homeowners save on heating and cooling bills. Vinyl is increasingly found in durable, easy-to- clean vinyl wall coverings.
  2. Plumbing Fixtures: Contain plastic composites made from petrochemicals.
  3. Piping: Made from high density polyethylene (HDPE), and acrylonitrile butadiene syrene (ABS) pipes and fittings. In residential use, cross-linked polyethylene piping (PEX) is used due to its flexibility, lightness and ease of installation.
  4. Windows: Plastics rival traditional materials for windows and frames. Polycarbonate (PC), a material used in eyeglasses, is used in windows. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is used for window frames, which diminishes heat transfer from wood rot.
  5. Plastic House Wrap: Made from polyethylene with polypropylene mesh.
  6. Roofing: Made with spray polyurethane form (SPF).
  7. Decks, Fences and Railings: Lumber made from recycled plastics or plastic-wood composites are comprised of petrochemicals.
  8. Insulation: Petrochemical-based insulating and sealing products such as spray polyurethane foam, expandable polystyrene insulating panels for walls and insulated vinyl siding are used to insulate homes.

 

Consumer Electronics

  1. DVD & CD Player: Plastic is the main component of CDs and DVDs. Most CDs and DVDs are made of polycarbonate, which is derived from benzene and propylene.
  2. Computer: Old cathode ray tube (CRT) computer monitors ranged from 13 to 38% plastics, while LCD displays used now range from 32 to 41% plastics. A wider variety of plastics is used in the more modern LCD displays including polycarbonate (PC), polyacetate (PA), and polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA). Other petrochemical-derived plastics include acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), high impact polystryrene (HIPS), expandable polystyrene (EPS), polyphenylene oxide (PPO), polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) and polyethylene (PE).
  3. Microchip: Made from petrochemical products.
  4. Radio: Made from petrochemical products.
  5. Telephone: Made from Petrochemical products.
  6. TV: Old cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions ranged from 13 to 38% plastics, while LCD displays used now range from 32 to 41% plastics. A wider variety of plastics is used in the more modern LCD displays including polycarbonate (PC), polyacetate (PA), and polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA). Other petrochemical-derived plastics include acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), high impact polystryrene (HIPS), expandable polystyrene (EPS), polyphenylene oxide (PPO), polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) and polyethylene (PE).
  7. Cell Phone: Made from petrochemical products.
  8. Air Conditioner: Petrochemicals are used extensively in the manufacture of home appliances, such as the air conditioner, including synthetic rubber used in hoses, belts and gaskets as well as plastic resins, plasticizers and other additives and coatings. The more common petrochemicals used in appliances are polyurethane (PU), acrylonitrile=butadiene-styrene polymer (ABS), polystyrene (PS) and polypropylene (PP).
  9. Furnace: Petrochemicals are used extensively in the manufacture of home appliances, such as furnaces, including synthetic rubber used in hoses, belts, and gaskets as well as plastic resins, plasticizers, and other additives and coatings. The more common petrochemicals used in appliances are polyurethane (PU), acrylonitrile=butadiene-styrene polymer (ABS), polystyrene (PS) and polypropylene (PP).
  10. Washing Machine: Petrochemicals are used extensively in the manufacture of home appliances, such as the washing machine, including synthetic rubber used in hoses, belts, and gaskets as well as plastic resins, plasticizers and other additives and coatings. The more common petrochemicals used in appliances are polyurethane (PU), acrylonitrile=butadiene-styrene polymer (ABS), polystyrene (PS) and polypropylene (PP).
  11. Water Heater: Petrochemicals are used extensively in the manufacture of home appliances, such as the water heater, including synthetic rubber used in hoses, belts, and gaskets as well as plastic resins, plasticizers, and other additives and coatings. The more common petrochemicals used in appliances are polyurethane (PU), acrylonitrile=butadiene-styrene polymer (ABS), polystyrene (PS) and polypropylene (PP).
  12. Dish Washer: Petrochemicals are used extensively in the manufacture of home appliances, such as the dish washer, including synthetic rubber used in hoses, belts, and gaskets as well as plastic resins, plasticizers, and other additives and coatings. The more common petrochemicals used in appliances are polyurethane (PU), acrylonitrile=butadiene-styrene polymer (ABS), polystyrene (PS) and polypropylene (PP).
  13. Refrigerator: Acyrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) is used in refrigerator liners and other components. High impact polystyrene (HIPS) is used in trim, racks and similar appliance components. Where cold temperature impact properties are not important, polypropylene (PP) is used. About 375 million pounds of ABS resins are used in refrigerator and freezer liners and other components, while over 325 million pounds of polystyrene is used in the trim, racks, buckets, liners, trays, covers and similar appliance components.
  14. Freezer: Petrochemicals are used extensively in the manufacture of home appliances, such as the freezer, including synthetic rubber used in hoses, belts, and gaskets as well as plastic resins, plasticizers, and other additives and coatings. The more common petrochemicals used in appliances are polyurethane (PU), acrylonitrile=butadiene-styrene polymer (ABS), polystyrene (PS) and polypropylene (PP).

 

Renewable Energy

  1. Wind Turbine Blades: 45 percent of wind turbine blades are made up of petrochemical based materials. A large wind turbine containing 30 to 50 meter long blades would contain 27,000 pounds of petrochemical-based products.
  2. Solar Glazing: Solar cells use glazing that is made of petrochemicals. Solar cells also use new, novel petrochemicals for casing of the photovoltaic (PV) modules and sometimes are the substrates themselves.

Click here to see a chart of the products made from petrochemicals.