The chemical industry, manufacturing cleaning products, products for personal hygiene and child care, producing materials for the construction of household appliances and allowing the optimal preservation of food, has contributed decisively to making household chores easier. In primitive economies, 16 hours a day were dedicated to basic needs, and in the modern world, only two, due to detergents, clothes that are easy to iron and clean, or frozen foods, for example Chemistry Database.
Starting with the kitchen, we find plastic-coated utensils to which food does not stick, containers and furniture made of the same material, ceramic plates, transparent wrapping films, non-slip trays, cans protected inside, and foods prepared against the effect. of fungi and bacteria.
If we go to the living room, there is the television, the video, a sound player, compact discs, and magnetic tapes… all of them made up of chemical materials, from the interior coating of the television screens, to the magnetic supports, passing through compact discs.
And in every room there are elements derived from chemicals: carpets, upholstery, fabrics, pillow fillings, soap, perfumes, paint, adhesives, toys, detergents, insecticides, cosmetics… Look around you and look for an object that you cannot make. Chemistry has played an important role…and you can repeat this exercise on the plane, in the car or on the street.
Chemistry dresses us for every occasion: going to the countryside, bathing in the sea, playing a sport, climbing a mountain or going to a party. Natural fibers are difficult to modify and are produced in a relatively inefficient manner. Synthetic fibers can be altered to meet specific needs and are easily produced in large quantities. Furthermore, natural fibers are not as natural as they seem. Have you seen wool as it is produced by sheep, or how cotton turns out when, having no chemical protection, it is attacked by a beetle infestation?
Chemistry also helps us obtain higher yields in the use of food, allowing its conservation and transportation in cold rooms, preserving its properties and extending its life, both in slaughterhouses, department stores, shops and, therefore, Lastly, in domestic refrigerators and iceboxes. All of these devices operate with “clean” cryogenic gases and are thermally insulated with synthetic foams.
Finally, we must mention the enormous importance of packaging, manufactured with chemical products, for the preservation of food. These innocent-looking containers are admirable pieces of technology. They must be light and resistant, and there are some made up of numerous different layers of film, each one with specific functions and properties. The selective permeability of polymer-based materials to gases such as carbon dioxide and oxygen, as well as moisture and light, has led to the development of packaging with a modified interior atmosphere. If barrier properties are appropriately selected, a packaging material can maintain a modified atmosphere within the container, lengthening the so-called “shelf life” of the product.
Dehydrated products must be protected from moisture during storage. Fatty foods must be protected from the air to reduce oxidation. Fresh fruit, on the other hand, must breathe, and gases must circulate in the container. For all these sometimes contradictory needs, chemistry has the necessary materials.
“Smart packaging” is also manufactured with it when special characteristics are required. Thus, there are containers, for example, that are manufactured with products that absorb oxygen and remove it from their interior, and others that are composed of films sensitive to temperature and present abrupt changes in gas permeability above or below certain temperatures, as a consequence of the change from a crystalline structure to an amorphous one due to thermal fluctuation.
It is also important to highlight the importance of plastics in reducing packaging waste. Due to their resistance and lightness, they allow the development of the main strategy, which consists of reduction at source, lending themselves on the other hand to recycling and reuse, thus showing their eco-efficiency.