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The plastic package containing smoked chicken in the supermarket, the disposable cup that holds your tea or coffee, the case which stores your favorite music CD, and the shower unit that lets you enjoy a refreshing bath, all are made up of the polymer, polystyrene. Also known as Thermocole, this hydrocarbon is a chain of monomer named styrene which is a product obtained from petroleum or crude oil. Polystyrene has a vast range of applications, and almost every industry is dependent on it in some or the other way.
Various Applications of Polystyrene
Manufacturing
Toy made from polystyrene
▣ Disposable cutlery has made our life easy and convenient, as we don't need to carry reusable cutlery every time we go for an outing. This has become possible due to polystyrene. Sheet or molded form of this polymer is used enormously for the production of plastic cutlery which are meant for one-time use.

▣ The polymer is fit for manufacturing various household appliances like blenders, air conditioners, refrigerators, ovens, etc., as it can be easily processed and is capable of imparting a clean finish to the appliance.

▣ Other consumer goods like kitchen and bathroom accessories, garden equipment, lawn accessories, etc., are also made by incorporating polystyrene in the manufacturing process.

▣ Owing to its less price as compared to other costly polymers, and ease of processing into different shapes and sizes, polystyrene is also used for making toys.

▣ Another utility is in the manufacturing of smoke detector housing that is used for detecting smoke in case a fire flares up.

▣Housing for televisions, CD or DVD cases, and several devices used in information technology are all dependent on this polymer.
Packaging
Pallet with fresh fish
▣ Supermarkets are stocked up with eatables stored in polystyrene packaging material. Perishable food items like meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, salads etc., can be prevented from spoiling if packed in this packaging material. It is a cost-effective way of food preservation.
▣ Electronic goods and appliances are packed in boxes along with support material made up of polystyrene. This material provides insulation and protection from external factors, and cushions the fragile appliance from external shocks.
▣ Goods, specially food items, that are required to be transported to different locations around the world can be safely shipped in polystyrene packaging. Boxes meant for long-distance transport are used for products like meat, fish, oysters, etc., that need to be maintained in an edible condition till the shipment reaches its destination.
Building and Construction
Soundproof room
▣ This long-chain hydrocarbon has excellent insulation capacity, and is therefore used for construction purposes to insulate ceilings, walls, floors, etc., from external temperature variations and humidity.

▣ The polymer also finds its utility in soundproofing walls of buildings.

▣ Lighting and plumbing fixtures, panels and siding used for construction purpose, all require resins of this chemical compound.
Medical Applications
Centrifuge tubes
▣ Versatility of this resin has made it suitable for use in the medical field as well. It is extensively used in making medical equipment due to its clarity (which helps in visibility) and fitness to handle the sterilization process.
▣ Biomedical research involves the use of several items like test tubes, petri dishes, trays for conducting tissue culture test, etc., and all of these are made from some or the other form of polystyrene.
▣ Many diagnostic test equipment are also made up of this polymer. Medical cups, medical keyboards, plastic boxes, vaginal dilator speculum are some examples of the same.
Art and Crafts
Sequined christmas ornaments
▣ Extruded polystyrene or Styrofoam is another form of the polymer which has closed cells. It can be used for art and craft projects. The material can be easily cut into various shapes and sizes, and can be ornamented with other supplies to obtain a beautiful craft piece.
▣ Craft ideas like candle holders and ornaments for a Christmas tree can be accomplished by using Styrofoam.

▣ It is also used for making models of architectural designs, and is a very convenient replacement of corrugated cardboard which was earlier used for this purpose.
The unique chemical and physical properties of polystyrene set it apart from rest of the polymers. From the above information it is clear that utility of this polymeric hydrocarbon is not restricted to a particular area. It is extensively used as it has several benefits over other polymers. It is light in weight, yet strong enough to avoid damage during transport. It provides ease of handling, is moisture resistant and affordable. Last, but not the least, it has a good visual appeal and can be recycled easily.