Chemistry

Difference Between Natural Polymers and Synthetic Polymers

Main difference

The main difference between natural polymers and synthetic polymers is that natural polymers are the polymeric compounds that are available in our environment while synthetic polymers are the polymeric compounds that we make artificially and cannot be obtained from nature .

Natural polymers vs. synthetic polymers

Polymers are macromolecules that are made up of small units known as monomers. Polymers contain a wide range of compounds that are very valuable in our daily lives. These polymers are classified in various ways; for example, they are classified according to structure and according to physical or chemical properties. The primary classification of polymers contains two groups called natural polymers and synthetic polymers.

Natural polymers are the polymeric compounds found in our environment while synthetic polymers are the polymeric compounds that are not available in nature and are produced artificially. Natural polymers are mainly found in three types as polyamides, polysaccharides, and polynucleotides. Synthetic polymers are formed through the use of numerous chemical reactions. Therefore, polymers are further classified on the type of chemical reaction that was used to form them. Furthermore, synthetic polymers are classified as inorganic polymers or organic polymers. Rubber is found in nature and is also synthesized by man. It can be collected as a milky liquid (latex) from various types of trees.

Natural rubber, which we obtain from the latex of the tree, is basically called a polymer that contains a small percentage of impurities and is composed of isoprene units. Synthetic rubber, on the other hand, can be prepared by polymerizing various monomers, which also includes isoprene.

Comparison chart

natural polymers synthetic polymers
Natural polymers are the polymeric compounds that are available in our environment. Synthetic polymers are the polymeric compounds that we make artificially and cannot be obtained from nature .
examples
The most common examples of natural polymers are DNA, cellulose, silk, wool, and proteins. The most common examples of synthetic polymers are polyethylene, polyester, nylon, Teflon, and epoxy.
Types
Natural polymers are generally found in three types as polyamides, polysaccharides, and polynucleotides. Synthetic polymers are generally classified as inorganic polymers or organic polymers. Since they are formed through the use of numerous chemical reactions, they are classified by the type of chemical reaction that was used to form them.
Idea
Natural polymers have a natural occurrence. Synthetic polymers do not have a natural occurrence.
Production
Natural polymers are produced from biological processes. Synthetic polymers are produced from chemical processes.
Degradation
Almost all natural polymers that we have in our environment can be easily degraded by biological processes. Most synthetic polymers are difficult to naturally degrade by biological processes.
Rubber
Natural rubber, which we obtain from tree latex, is basically called a polymer that contains a small percentage of impurities and is composed of isoprene units. Synthetic rubber is prepared by the polymerization of various monomers, which also includes isoprene.

What are natural polymers ?

Natural polymers are the polymeric compounds that are available in our environment. These polymers are usually based on water. The most common examples of natural polymers are DNA, cellulose, silk, wool, and proteins. Natural polymers are the polymeric compounds that are generally found in three types as polyamides, polysaccharides, and polynucleotides. Polysaccharides contain the polymers that are made up of monosaccharide units.

The most common types of monosaccharides are fructose, glucose, galactose, etc. Polysaccharides are found in both plants and animals. For example, starch is a polysaccharide found in plants as a storage carbohydrate. Glycogen is another polysaccharide found in animals as a storage carbohydrate. Polyamides contain proteins and all other natural polymers that consist of peptide bonds. Polynucleotides contain DNA and RNA and are made up of monomers, which are called nucleotides.

What are synthetic polymers ?

Synthetic polymers are the polymeric compounds that are artificially formed by humans. Their productions are carried out in factories or laboratories depending on the need. Natural polymers were the inspiration behind the production of synthetic polymers. After examination of the chemical structures of natural polymers, people made synthetic polymers. These polymers are generally produced from petroleum oil.

Synthetic polymers are further classified, which depend on the production method and the components that are used in the production, etc. For example, some of the polymers are formed by condensation polymerization, while other polymers are formed by addition polymerization. Furthermore, synthetic polymers can also be classified as organic or inorganic polymers. Organic polymers are composed of hydrocarbons, while inorganic polymers do not contain hydrocarbons.

Key differences

  1. Natural polymers are the polymeric compounds that are available in our environment while synthetic polymers are the polymeric compounds that we make artificially and cannot be obtained from nature.
  2. The most common examples of natural polymers are DNA, cellulose, silk, wool, and proteins, on the other hand, the most common examples of synthetic polymers are polyethylene, polyester, nylon, Teflon, and epoxy.
  3. Natural polymers are generally found in three types such as polyamides, polysaccharides, and polynucleotides; On the other hand, synthetic polymers are generally classified as inorganic polymers or organic polymers. Since they are formed through the use of numerous chemical reactions, they are classified by the type of chemical reaction that was used to form them.
  4. Natural polymers have natural appearances; on the other hand, synthetic polymers do not occur naturally.
  5. Natural polymers are produced from biological processes, while synthetic polymers are produced from chemical processes.
  6. Almost all natural polymers that are present in our environment can be easily degraded by biological processes; on the other hand, most synthetic polymers are difficult to degrade naturally through biological processes.
  7. Natural rubber, which we get from the latex of trees, is basically a polymer that is made from isoprene units and also has a small percentage of impurities inside it. On the contrary, synthetic rubber is produced when the polymerization process of various monomers occurs, in which isoprene is also included.

Final Thought

The above discussion summarizes that natural polymers and synthetic polymers are two main categories of polymers. The former has naturally occurring polymeric compounds, while the latter has compounds that are made by humans and not found in nature.

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