Bakelite or polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride is an early plastic. It is a thermosetting phenol formaldehyde resin, formed from a condensation reaction of phenol with formaldehyde. It was developed by the Belgian-American chemist Leo Baekeland in New York in 1907. Poetically, it is a resin formed from equal parts of phenol and formaldehyde, in the presence of a base, by the application of heat
Characteristics & Uses
The characteristic features of bakelite include:
- It has the rigor and brilliance of glass,
- It has the luster of amber from the isles.
- It will not burn.
- It will not melt.
- It is used in pipe stems, fountain pens, billiard balls,telephone fixtures, castanets, radiator caps, etc..
- In liquid form, it is a varnish.
- In semi solid form i.e when jellied, it is a glue.
- Bakelite has a low electrical conductivity and high resistance to heat and chemicals.
- It is a thermosetting polymer and has high strength and retains its shape after moulding.
- Phenolic resins are extensively used as adhesives and binding agents.
- It finds application in coating industry as well for protective purposes.
- Bakelite is most commonly used for making electrical switches due to its high resistance to heat and low conductivity.
- Earlier it was used for making machine parts of electrical systems too.
- Bakelite is also used to make the handles of variety of utensils.
- It is one of the most important polymers that are used to make different components and parts.
Environmental impact, incineration and recycling
The dangerous nature of Bakelite is from different sources: manufacturing, collecting and disposing. Besides the obvious danger to the environment to improper disposal of these products, there is a considerable and lingering health risk. Not only did these products contain formaldehyde, Bakelite contained asbestos, a known and hazardous toxin. Exposure to Bakelite dust may cause lung infections, mesothelioma and other respiratory complications.