My Group Synthesized The Longest Nylon-6 Thread : 13 meters

After a long two weeks, finally our second task of Applied Chemistry Laboratory II class is over. Although it was only in a laboratory scale, I’m satisfied since in this experiment we synthesized one of the most produced polymer fibre: Nylon 6. FYI, Nylon 6 has a wide variety of applications due to its good quality, including its transparency, its flame resisting property,and  its strength. Nowdays, although a number of competitors are on the ring, nylon 6 is still widely used in bristles for toothbrushes, manufacture knitted garments, manufacture of a large variety of threads, ropes, filaments, nets, tire cords, etc.

Nylon 6 Molecular Structure

By the way in our Laboratory,to synthesize Nylon 6, first, we must prepare the monomer (the unit of a polymer) called ε-caprolactam. We spent three days just to make a small amount of white powder, sometimes using an explosive hazardous concentrated Sulphuric Acid (the second step). The reaction briefly could be described as picture below. I’m sorry for the chemistry hater ^_^

Synthesis of ε-caprolactam

Then on the fourth day, we polymerize the ε-caprolactam into nylon-6.During polymerization, the peptide bond within each caprolactam molecule is broken, with the active groups on each side re-forming two new bonds as the monomer becomes part of the polymer backbone as seen below:

Polymerization Reaction of Caprolactam

Unlike all experiment i’ve already done all this time, at this time my desk partner and I changed our tactics, not to finish the procedure as fast as possible, but we focused on making the best and the cleanest product. As a consequence, my group was always being one of the latest group for discussions sessions everyday, but we’re sure that our products color and melting point shows that they’re highly purified. And our patience was paid on the end of the fourth day, when our lecturer Koyama Sensei from Polymer Eng. Dept. assigned each group to extend polymers we’ve created while it’s hot (about 230℃). One stood on one point and the partner run backward and extend the thread come out from the hot polymer. Averagely, our friends’ polymers extend to 4-6 meters, and just a few of them reach until more than 10 meters. Among them, our thread reached 13 meters!!!

Perhaps for professionals, this is just a little thing, but for us, this is a kind of leap. Yosh, Ganbarou for the next experiments!!!


About chemieingenieur

Let me introduce myself. My fullname is Baharuddin Maghfuri. I was born in 1988 in the city of Magelang, Indonesia. I spent my early childhood until my highschool in that peaceful small city. After that I study in Bandung Institute of Technology for just one semester. I hope you don’t think I dropped out. Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Technology of Japan gave me a big opportunity to study in undergraduate program in japan. And now, I live in Japan, studying Chemical Engineering in Tokyo Institute of Technology. I hope everything will be alright and I’ll complete the undergraduate degree in 2011, then just continue onto Master Degree with qualification Chemical Engineering. Most of my interests are related with my study, photography, pop music and computers: - Chemical engineering in undergraduate level, such as Stoichiometry, Thermodynamics, Transport Phenomena etc. - Studying languages – I am able to communicate in English, Japanese, Indonesian. Now I’m trying to learn Germany. - I love to spend my free time hang out with my friends from Indonesia and taking pictures. - The C Programming and other codings also makes me happy and of course blogging at time to time. But nowdays, beside doing my interests, Indonesian community here asked me to work with them in some volunteer activities. The followings are some of them. You might find my name in their sites. 1. Kammi Jepang 2. PMIJ 3. PPI Tokodai 4. KMII Jepang and so on.
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2 Responses to My Group Synthesized The Longest Nylon-6 Thread : 13 meters

  1. Fachri says:

    To speak about nylon is to describe modern history. From its invention around 1930s, nylon has been used virtually anywhere, from fabrics to musical string, even on machine parts such as screws. It’s indeed the fabric of modern world.

    As magnificent the nylon is, I think the story of its invention should also be a lesson to all us. It’s the textbook example of how we combine our fascination with our surrounding, i.e. science, to better the world. So, I believe understanding the manufacturing process should only be a starting step for you to explore more of the magical world of science.

    Anyway, I regard your decision to work diligently highly. Sometime, it’s better for us to further our understanding than to work fast, because it’s the hallmark of a professional. Who knows, that in the future, it’s the little detail which we tend to ignore, that will lead the way to the next big thing.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Hannah says:

    Hi, I was wondering if you could possibly send me the whole procedure of making nylon 6. We were trying to do it in my 4th year Chemistry unit but it didn’t work. We ended up with black soot. A proton NMR showed our samples are not pure ε-caprolactam, but that we also had some starting material. It would be much appreciated. And yes I realize you posted this 3 years ago.

    Cheers, Hannah

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