How many products can you think of that are made from Oil & Gas?

By Keith Allen

Mostly composed of carbon and hydrogen atoms, the technical name is polychloroprene according to the American Chemistry Council website. A long-chained molecule, or polymer, is formed by linking together, end-on-end, monomers which are many smaller molecules and known as chloroprene. Neoprene can be glued or stitched, it's waterproof, stretches, it's abrasion resistant and is relatively inexpensive.


This synthetic rubber was first successfully invented by a DuPont company group of scientists, led by chemist Wallace Carothers, in April, 1930. However, after WWII, Jacques Cousteau discovered neoprene and created a material for wetsuits used for diving in the frigid waters of the ocean according to the website Machovec.


Neoprene begins as polychloroprene which is a powder, other ingredients are added that provide cell size, adhesion, foaming agents, bulk, color and other properties according to Machovec. Put into a heat press after it is made into a doughy mixture, the heat and pressure form a sheet. According to the type of neoprene and the manufacturer this sheet size will vary. A foam block is the final product measuring approximately 2 inches thick with the top and bottom either textured or smooth. These sheets (top and bottom) end up as nylon one side (NIS) and are used on many styles of wetsuits.



Nylon, a Petroleum Polymer was the world's first synthetic fiber produced, discovered by DuPont chemists in 1935. 

Du Pont Corporation foresees the future artificial fibers “strong as steel.” The chemical company becomes a global giant as its scientist create consumer products out of nylon, rayon and lucite.

The world’s first synthetic fiber – nylon – is discovered on February 28, 1935, by a former Harvard professor working at a DuPont Corporation research laboratory.

Professor Wallace Carothers had experimented with artificial materials for more than six years. He previously discovered neoprene rubber (commonly used in wetsuits) and made major contributions to understanding polymers – large molecules composed in long chains of repeating chemical structures. Learn more at or at Plastics Make it Possible.

Common Nylon Products: 




Polyester is a synthetic fiber derived from coal, air, water, and petroleum. Developed in a 20th-century laboratory, polyester fibers are formed from a chemical reaction between an acid and alcohol. In this reaction, two or more molecules combine to make a large molecule whose structure repeats throughout its length. Polyester fibers can form very long molecules that are very stable and strong.

Polyester is used in the manufacture of many products, including clothing, home furnishings, industrial fabrics, computer and recording tapes, and electrical insulation. Polyester has several advantages over traditional fabrics such as cotton. It does not absorb moisture, but does absorb oil; this quality makes polyester the perfect fabric for the application of water-, soil-, and fire-resistant finishes. Its low absorbency also makes it naturally resistant to stains. Polyester clothing can be preshrunk in the finishing process, and thereafter the fabric resists shrinking and will not stretch out of shape. The fabric is easily dyeable, and not damaged by mildew. Textured polyester fibers are an effective, nonallergenic insulator, so the material is used for filling pillows, quilting, outerwear, and sleeping bags.

Raw Materials

Polyester is a chemical term which can be broken into poly, meaning many, and ester, a basic organic chemical compound. The principle ingredient used in the manufacture of polyester is ethylene, which is derived from petroleum. In this process, ethylene is the polymer, the chemical building block of polyester, and the chemical process that produces the finished polyester is called polymerization. Read more.

What Is Plastic?

A plastic is a type of synthetic or man-made polymer; similar in many ways to natural resins found in trees and other plants. Webster's Dictionary defines polymers as: any of various complex organic compounds produced by polymerization, capable of being molded, extruded, cast into various shapes and films, or drawn into filaments and then used as textile fibers.

Each plastic has very distinct characteristics, but most plastics have the following general attributes.

  • Plastics can be very resistant to chemicals. 
  • Plastics can be both thermal and electrical insulators. 
  • Generally, plastics are very light in weight with varying degrees of strength.
  • Plastics can be processed in various ways to produce thin fibers or very intricate parts.
  • Polymers are materials with a seemingly limitless range of characteristics and colors. 
  • Polymers are usually made of petroleum, but not always.  Many polymers are made of repeat units derived from natural gas or coal or crude oil. But building block repeat units can sometimes be made from renewable materials such as polylactic acid from corn or cellulosics from cotton linters. Some plastics have always been made from renewable materials such as cellulose acetate used for screwdriver handles and gift ribbon. When the building blocks can be made more economically from renewable materials than from fossil fuels, either old plastics find new raw materials or new plastics are introduced.

Read more about the Lifecycle of a Plastic Product.