Could Polycarbonate Plastic panels replace Glass Windows?

From Belinda Carr.

Polycarbonate has become one of the most versatile materials of the decade. It’s quickly replacing traditional materials like glass and acrylic because of its increased strength, lightness and ease of installation. They appear transparent during the day and emit a captivating internal glow at night. Polycarbonate is quickly changing the future of architecture and construction. It can be found in a wide range of finishes, colors and profiles like solid, corrugated and multi-wall panels.

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0:00 Introduction
1:03 Types of polycarbonate
2:45 How is polycarbonate made
3:34 Advantages of polycarbonate
5:45 Architecture examples
6:32 Sponsor
7:32 Disadvantages of polycarbonate
8:43 Conclusion

The versatility of polycarbonate allows it to be formed into a range of panels, each designed for specific applications.
Multiwall panels consist of multiple layers with hollow chambers in between. They can be formed into twin-wall, triple-wall, five-wall panels and more. The air pockets give them excellent insulation properties, making them ideal for roofing, greenhouse glazing, and cladding.

Corrugated panels have a wavy or ribbed surface. They are used for roofing and siding as they provide both natural light transmission and impact resistance. The corrugated structure also prevents water accumulation and allows for flexibility during installation.

Solid panels look just like glass or acrylic sheets. They are used for windows, skylights, security barriers, and protective screens.

At the simplest level, polycarbonate is a synthetic or human-made plastic made from the reaction of bisphenol A with phosgene. Bisphenol A or BPA is mixed with sodium hydroxide to form a salt called diphenoxide and a water molecule. This reacts with phosgene or carbonyl dichloride to form a chloroformate. After multiple reactions with diphenoxide, the molecule grows to form a long polymer chain called polycarbonate.

– One of the advantages is its increased strength. Polycarbonate is 250 times stronger than standard glass and 30 times stronger than acrylic because of its molecular structure and chemical composition. It has long, linear polymer chains as we discussed earlier. These give it a high molecular weight and high strength.
– It is also chemically inert. It will not react with water, acids, bases, oils, solvents and alcohols. This is because of its carbon to carbon and carbon to oxygen covalent bonds. These are stable and resistant to chemical breakdown under normal environmental conditions.
– Another big advantage is its thermal insulation properties. Multiwall panels can insulate 60% better than glass panels. The air chambers between the layers act as insulators, which reduce heat transmission. Moreover, the material itself, polycarbonate, has naturally low thermal conductivity compared to glass or metal.
– Polycarbonate is also light-weight compared to glass, metal and wood because it has an amorphous or non-crystalline molecular structure.

– it is not completely resistant to UV radiation. Most polycarbonate sheets have a resin coating and UV stabilizers impregnated into the material which makes it suitable for outdoor applications. However, over time, prolonged exposure to sunlight may cause yellowing. It is also susceptible to scratches because the exposed surfaces are relatively soft. To mitigate this issue, coatings or treatments can be applied to enhance scratch resistance.
– The third disadvantage is its bulkiness compared to other insulation materials. In the residential sector, polycarbonate is best used as a replacement for glass, not for wood or metal framed walls.
– Finally, there are some environmental concerns with using polycarbonate. BPA or bisphenol A, is one of the main ingredients of this material. It has been linked to some serious health effects. Scientists are developing a BPA-free polycarbonate alternative to address these concerns.

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#plastic #glass #construction #sustainability #architecture #carbonfootprint