When you think of a “clean room” – maybe you think of workers in helmets and gloves and big white suits, airlocks, bright lights, and of course, shiny spotless surfaces. You might think of finding clean rooms in places like NASA, as scientists work on a space telescope or a probe to another planet. And you’d be right. But you’d also be right if you thought about plastics manufacturers (at least when those plastics are being used in the world of medical care).
That’s a good thing too, because these are plastics you want to be really, really clean. Clean, as in beyond sparkling. Clean, as in sterile.
That’d be plastics that go into us, as in pacemakers and stents, artificial hearts and artificial limbs. And sometimes medical products like plastic bags and tubes for blood and other IV infusions, and plastic syringes, are also manufactured in a clean room.
So a clean room is a good thing. But those advanced medical plastics (and most plastics, period) require something else too – petroleum and natural gas – because that’s where the petrochemical building blocks (like ethylene and propylene), that are essential for making those plastics, come from.