Difference Between Natural Polymers and Synthetic Polymers

Main Difference

The main difference between the Natural Polymers and the Synthetic Polymers is that Natural Polymers are the polymer compounds that are available in our environment, whereas Synthetic Polymers are the polymer compounds that we make artificially, and they cannot be obtained from nature.

Natural Polymersvs. Synthetic Polymers

Polymers are the macromolecules that are composed of small units known as monomers. Polymers contain a wide range of compounds that are very valuable in our daily life. These polymers are classified in various ways; for example, they are classified according to the structure and according to the physical or chemical properties. The primary classification of the polymers contains two groups called the natural polymers and the synthetic polymers.

Natural polymers are the polymer compounds that are found in our environment, while, synthetic polymers are the polymer compounds that are not available in nature and are produced artificially. The natural polymers are mostly found in three types as polyamides, polysaccharides, and polynucleotides. The synthetic polymers are formed by using numerous chemical reactions. Therefore, the polymers are further categorized in the kind of chemical reaction that was used to form them. Also, synthetic polymers are categorized as inorganic polymers or organic polymers. Rubber occurs in nature and is also synthesized by man. It can be harvested as a milky liquid (latex) from various types of trees.

The natural rubber, which we obtain from the tree latex is basically referred to as a polymer that contains a small percentage of impurities in it and is made up of isoprene units. Synthetic rubber, on the other hand, can be prepared through the polymerization of several monomers, in which isoprene is also included.

Comparison Chart

Natural PolymersSynthetic Polymers
Natural polymers are the polymer compounds that are available in our environment.Synthetic polymers are the polymer compounds that we make artificially, and they cannot be obtained from nature.
Examples
The most common examples of natural polymers are DNA, cellulose, silk, wool, and proteins.The most common examples of synthetic polymers are polyethylene, polyester, nylon, Teflon, and epoxy.
Types
The natural polymers are generally found in three types as polyamides, polysaccharides, and polynucleotides.Synthetic polymers are generally categorized as inorganic polymers or organic polymers. As they are formed by using numerous chemical reactions, so, they are further categorized into the type of chemical reaction that was used to form them.
Occurrence
The natural polymers have a natural occurrence.Synthetic polymers do not have a natural occurrence.
Production
The natural polymers are produced from biological processes.The synthetic polymers are produced from the chemical processes.
Degradation
Almost all of the natural polymers that we have in our environment can be easily degraded by biological processes.Most of the synthetic polymers are difficult to degrade naturally through biological processes.
Rubber
The natural rubber, which we obtain from tree latex, is basically referred to as a polymer that contains a small percentage of impurities in it and is made up of the isoprene units.Synthetic rubber is prepared through the polymerization of several monomers, in which isoprene is also included.

What is Natural Polymers?

Natural polymers are the polymer compounds that are available in our environment. These polymers are often water-based. The most common examples of natural polymers are DNA, cellulose, silk, wool, and proteins. The natural polymers are the polymer compounds that are generally found in three types as polyamides, polysaccharides, and polynucleotides. Polysaccharides contain the polymers that are made up of monosaccharide units.

The most common types of monosaccharides are fructose, glucose, galactose, etc. Polysaccharides are found in both plants and animals. For instance, starch is a polysaccharide that is found in plants as a storage carbohydrate. Glycogen is another polysaccharide that is found in animals in the form of a storing carbohydrate. Polyamides contain proteins and all the other naturally occurring polymers that consist of peptide bonds. Polynucleotides contain DNA and RNA, and they are made up of monomers, which are called nucleotides.

What are Synthetic Polymers?

Synthetic polymers are the polymer compounds that are formed artificially by human beings. Their productions are done in factories or laboratories based on the need. The natural polymers were the inspiration behind the production of synthetic polymers. After the examination of the chemical structures of natural polymers, people made synthetic polymers. These polymers are generally produced from petroleum oil.

Synthetic polymers are further categorized, which depend on the method of production and the components which are used in production, etc. For example, some of the polymers are formed by condensation polymerization, while some other polymers are formed by addition polymerization. Furthermore, synthetic polymers can also be categorized as organic or inorganic polymers. Organic polymers are made up of hydrocarbons whereas inorganic polymers do not contain hydrocarbons.

Key Differences

  1. Natural polymers are the polymer compounds that are available in our environment, whereas, synthetic polymers are the polymer compounds that we make artificially, and they cannot be obtained from nature.
  2. The most common examples of the natural polymers are DNA, cellulose, silk, wool, and proteins, on the other hand, the most common examples of synthetic polymers are polyethylene, polyester, nylon, Teflon and epoxy.
  3. The natural polymers are generally found in three types as polyamides, polysaccharides, and polynucleotides; on the flip side, synthetic polymers are generally categorized as the inorganic polymers or the organic polymers. As they are formed by using numerous chemical reactions, so, they are further categorized into the type of chemical reaction that was used to form them.
  4. The natural polymers have natural occurrences; on the other side, synthetic polymers do not have natural occurrence.
  5. The natural polymers are produced from the biological processes, while, the synthetic polymers are produced from the chemical processes.
  6. Almost all of the natural polymers which are present in our environment can be easily degraded by biological processes; on the other hand, most of the synthetic polymers are difficult to degrade naturally through biological processes.
  7. Natural rubber, which we obtain from tree latex is basically a polymer that is made from isoprene units and also has a small percentage of impurities within it. Conversely, synthetic rubber is produced when the process of polymerization of several monomers occurs, in which isoprene is also included.

Comparison Video

YouTube video

Conclusion

The above discussion summarizes that the natural polymers and the synthetic polymers are two main categories of polymers. The former has polymer compounds that are found naturally, whereas the latter has compounds that are made by humans and are not found in nature.

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss

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