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Polystyrene is an inexpensive and hard plastic. Model cars and airplanes are made from polystyrene, and it also is made in the form of foam packaging and insulation (Styrofoam is one brand of polystyrene foam). polystyrene is also used in toys, and the housings of things like hairdryers, computers, and kitchen appliances.

polystyrene is a vinyl polymer. Structurally, it is a long hydrocarbon chain, with a phenyl group attached to every other carbon atom. Polystyrene is produced by free radical vinyl polymerization, from the monomer styrene.


polystyrene is also a component of a type of hard rubber called poly(styrenebutadiene-styrene), or SBS rubber. SBS rubber is a thermoplastic elatomer.

The Polystyrene of the Future

There's a new kind of polystyrene called syndiotactic polystyrene. It's different because the phenyl groups on the polymer chain are attached to alternating sides of the polymer backbone chain. "Normal" or atactic polystyrene has no order with regard to the side of the chain on which the phenyl groups are attached.

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