We learned how to make small amounts of ethene from ethanol using sulfuric acid.

Is there a way to make a visible amount of polyethylene from that using materials I could get for a school lab? We can't do pressures of 1000+ bars obviously, but we don't need high efficiency either -- just enough of a solid for the students to see that something happened.


Not polyethylene, but I recall doing an experiment in school where hexamethylenediamine and adipic acid were poured carefully so one was layered on top of the other. They did not mix in bulk, but reacted at the contact surface to form a Nylon-type polymer barrier. We poked a rod in to pull the polymer out (enabling more reaction) and wind it around the rod!

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    $\begingroup$ Yup! I know that one. It's cool, and a nice demonstration of polymerization, but not exactly what I was looking for. $\endgroup$ – Martin Feb 8 '19 at 9:24

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