Polystyrene is a polymer material. It forms from the polymerization of styrene monomer. Thus, it is available as both solid or foam, and it is common because it is inexpensive. Styrofoam is a trademark brand of polystyrene.
What is Polystyrene?
Polystyrene is a synthetic aromatic hydrocarbon polymer. We can produce this polymer from the monomer styrene. It is available in two forms as a solid form or as foam. This material is clear, hard, and rather brittle. Moreover, it is inexpensive when considering a unit weight. However, it is a poor barrier to oxygen and water vapor.
This polymer has a low melting point comparatively. It is transparent, and we can color this resin with colorants. It is a thermoplastic polymer. At room temperature, it is in the solid state. But if we heat this polymer above 100 °C, the material flows. Therefore, it is the glass transition temperature of this material. However, it becomes rigid when we cool it back.
The biodegradation of this polymer is very slow. Since it is common as a liter in the environment, we should reduce the use of polystyrene. The chemical formula of this compound is (C8H8)n, and the melting point is 240 °C. When considering the chemical structure of this material, it has a long chain hydrocarbon with an alternating pattern of phenyl groups attached to the carbon chain.
What is Styrofoam?
Styrofoam is a trademark brand of polystyrene. It falls under the category of closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam (XPS). This material has a light blue color. The owner of this brand is The Dow Chemical Company. Styrofoam contains about 98% air; this makes it lightweight and buoyant.
When considering the uses of this material, it has many applications as a building material, in building insulation sheathing and pipe insulation. Moreover, we can use this material under roads and other structures to prevent soil disturbances due to freezing. Apart from that, we can use this material structural insulated panels; these are used by florists in craft products.
What is the Difference Between Polystyrene and Styrofoam?
Polystyrene is a synthetic aromatic hydrocarbon polymer whereas Styrofoam is a trademark brand of polystyrene. This makes the difference between polystyrene and Styrofoam. Polystyrene appears transparent. But various forms of polystyrene have different colors because of adding colorants. For example, Styrofoam has a light blue color.
Moreover, another difference between polystyrene and Styrofoam is that the polystyrene is available as both a solid product and foam product, but the Styrofoam is available only as a foam product. There is also a difference between polystyrene and Styrofoam in their uses. The Styrofoam is mainly manufactured as an insulation material in buildings and roads.
Summary – Polystyrene vs Styrofoam
Polystyrene is a common polymer material produces from the monomer, styrene. Styrofoam is a form of polystyrene. The key difference between polystyrene and Styrofoam is that the polystyrene is a form of synthetic aromatic hydrocarbon polymer whereas the Styrofoam is a commercial brand of polystyrene.
1. “Polystyrene.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Aug. 2018. Available here