A polyolefin is a polymer produced from a simple olefin (also called an alkene with the general formula CnH2n) as a monomer. For example, polyethylene is the polyolefin produced by polymerizing the olefin ethylene. An equivalent term is polyalkene; this is a more modern term, although polyolefin is still used in the petrochemical industry. Polypropylene is another common polyolefin which is made from the olefin propylene.
Polyolefin surfaces are not effectively joined together by solvent cementing because they have excellent chemical resistance and are unaffected by common solvents. They can be adhesively bonded after surface treatment (they inherently have very low surface energies and don't wet-out well), and by some superglues (cyanoacrylates) and reactive (meth)acrylate glues. They are extremely inert chemically but exhibit decreased strength at lower and higher temperatures. Thermal welding is a common bonding technique. A more specific type of olefin is a poly-alpha-olefin (or poly-α-olefin, sometimes abbreviated as PAO), a polymer made by polymerizing an alpha-olefin. An alpha-olefin (or α-olefin) is an alkene where the carbon-carbon double bond starts at the α-carbon atom, i.e. the double bond is between the #1 and #2 carbons in the molecule. Common alpha-olefins used as co-monomers to give a polymer alkyl branching groups are similar to 1-hexene or may be longer.
Polyolefin is used for blown film and heatshrink electrical insulation sleeves for crimped wire terminals, as well as rash guards or under garments for wetsuits. Polyolefin elastomer POE is used as a main ingredient in the molded flexible foam technology such as in the fabrication of self skinned footwear (for example, Crocs shoes), seat cushions, arm rests, spa pillows, etc. Hydrogenated polyalphaolefin (PAO) is used as a radar coolant. Head makes polyolefin tennis racket strings. Polyolefin is also used in pharmaceutical and medical industry for HEPA filter certification--a PAO aerosol is passed through the filters and the air that exits is measured with an aerosol detector. Elastolefin is a fiber used in fabrics.
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