The science behind epoxy
Epoxy technically refers to a kind resin, but the name has come to be associated with a function – those substances that harden in the presence of another substance. The reaction of two chemicals forms a new chemical, known as a polymer, that has a higher temperature and hardness than either the chemicals that formed it. Polymers are a modern age wonder, used in a wide variety of building, construction and manufacturing purposes. A certain kind of epoxy is even used in dental fillings.
While some plant derived epoxies are available, most used in modern floor coating are derived from petroleum. There are many kinds of epoxies on the market today, covering a wide variety of hardness, setting times and costs.
When the two parts of a resin are combined, the resultant reaction produces heat, which is known as an exothermic reaction. Resins have to be specifically formulated to ensure that the heat released during the hardening process doesn’t weaken the plastics.
Epoxy is a relatively recent invention. Dr. Pierre Castan of Switzerland and Dr. S.O. Greenlee of the United States synthesized the first epoxy in 1936. The technology behind epoxy is a complex with the bulk of modern Research and development being done by large corporations, such as the Shell chemical division and the Huntsman corporation, the same company that marketed the clam shell hamburger container.
A great feature of epoxy is their exceedingly long shelf life. There are many stories of tubes of epoxy resin being used decades after their manufacture and still bonding successfully.
Epoxy has long been used in all kinds of flooring, due to its strength and high resistance to wear. What a lot of people don’t know is that epoxy is an environmentally friendly substance compared to many alternatives, even wood. This is because wood can take a lot if water and chemical fertilizers to grow and do it can wear our quickly (especially compared to epoxy).
The most common and well known use of epoxy is as an adhesive. Epoxy is used to glue almost everything from aircraft, automobiles and bicycles to skis, surfboards and snowboards. The reason behind epoxy popularity is its versatility. By making slight changes to its chemical structure, or diluting it with other chemicals, epoxy can be matched to fit the use of the thing it is gluing.
How is epoxy different to plastic? While both are derived from petroleum, plastic by its very nature is a bendable, malleable substance. Epoxy on the other hand is solid and rigid, a property which bestows it remarkable longevity and strength.
In summary, epoxy is a petroleum derivative that once combined and hardened forms resin. We hope you’ve enjoyed this look behind the science of epoxy, and can understand now epoxy can help your garage floor looking like new for years to come.
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