Most of us recognize polystyrene in the form of styrofoam used for beverage cups and packaging peanuts. However, polystyrene is also used as a building material, with electrical appliances (light switches and plates), and in other household items.
Eduard Simon & Hermann Staudinger Polymer ResearchPolystyrene has a long history of evolution behind it. In 1839, a German apothecary called Eduard Simon discovered polystyrene. Eduard Simon isolated the substance from natural resin, however, he did not know what he had discovered.
It took another German, organic chemist, Hermann Staudinger, to realize that Simon's discovery, comprised of long chains of styrene molecules, was a plastic polymer.
In 1922, Hermann Staudinger published his theories on polymers, stating that natural rubbers were made up of long repetitive chains of monomers that gave rubber its elasticity. He went on to write that the materials manufactured by the thermal processing of styrene were similar to rubber. They were the high polymers including polystyrene. In 1953, Hermann Staudinger won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his research.
BASF Commercial Use of PolystyreneBadische Anilin & Soda-Fabrik or BASF was founded in 1861. BASF has a long history being innovative, having invented synthetic coal tar dyes, ammonia, nitrogenous fertilizers, and developed polystyrene, PVC, magnetic tape, and synthetic rubber.
In 1930, the scientists at BASF developed a way to commercially manufacture polystyrene. A company called I.G. Farben is often listed as the developer of polystyrene because BASF was under trust to I G. Farben in 1930.
In 1937, the Dow Chemical company introduced polystyrene products to the U.S. market.