Environmental Profile: Vinyl Roofing Membranes
What is vinyl and where does it come from?
Vinyl is essentially derived from two simple ingredients: fossil fuel and salt. Petroleum or natural gas is processed to make ethylene, and salt is subjected to electrolysis to separate out the natural element chlorine. Ethylene and chlorine are combined to produce ethylene dichloride (EDC), which is further processed into a gas called vinyl chloride monomer (VCM). In the next step, known as polymerization, the VCM molecule forms chains, converting the gas into a fine, white powder – vinyl resin – which becomes the basis for the final process, compounding. In compounding, vinyl resin may be blended with additives such as plasticizers for flexibility, stabilizers for durability and pigments for color. Through various plastics processing operations, manufacturers are able to offer versatile products with customized performance characteristics.
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