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High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is a polyethylene thermoplastic made from petroleum. HDPE has little branching, giving it stronger intermolecular forces and tensile strength than lower-density polyethylene. The difference in strength exceeds the difference in density, giving HDPE a higher specific strength. It is also harder and more opaque and can withstand somewhat higher temperatures (120 °C/ 248 °F for short periods, 110 °C /230 °F continuously). High-density polyethylene, unlike polypropylene, cannot withstand normally-required autoclaving conditions. HDPE contains the chemical elements carbon and hydrogen.

HDPE is resistant to many different solvents and has a wide variety of applications, including:

  • Containers
    • Laundry detergent bottles
    • Milk jugs
    • Fuel tanks for vehicles
  • Plastic lumber
  • Folding tables
  • Folding chairs
  • Storage sheds
  • Portable basketball system bases
  • Plastic bags
  • Geomembrane for hydraulic applications (canals, bank reinforcements...) and the containment of certain chemicals
  • Chemical-resistant piping systems
  • Heat-resistant fireworks display mortars
  • Geothermal heat transfer piping systems
  • Natural gas distribution pipe systems
  • Water pipes, for domestic water supply
  • Coax cable inner insulators (dielectric insulating spacer)
  • Root barrier
  • Corrosion protection for steel pipelines
  • Snowboard rails and boxes
  • Bottles, suitable for use as refillable bottles
  • Modern hula hoops
  • Ballistic plates
  • Bottle Caps
  • Breast implants

Milk bottles and other hollow goods manufactured through blow molding are the most important application area for HDPE. HDPE is also used for cell liners in subtitle D sanitary landfills, wherein large sheets of HDPE are either extrusion or wedge welded to form a homogeneous chemical-resistant barrier, with the intention of preventing the pollution of soil and groundwater by the liquid constituents of solid waste.


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