Mystery Nylon Factory
Publication No. 12546
Two solutions are poured together in a beaker. A paper clip is inserted down into the solutions. As the paper clip is withdrawn, almost by magic a very long strand of nylon is pulled from the beaker. A super demonstration to discuss polymer concepts.
Hexamethylenediamine/Sodium hydroxide solution, 7 mL*
Adipoyl chloride/hexane solution, 7 mL*
*Materials included in kit.
Hexamethylenediamine/sodium hydroxide solution is toxic by ingestion and is corrosive. Adipoyl chloride/hexane solution is a flammable liquid and is toxic by ingestion and inhalation. Chemical splash goggles, chemical-resistant gloves and a chemical resistant apron should be worn. Perform this demonstration under a fume hood or in a well-ventilated room. Do not handle the nylon without wearing gloves unless it has been thoroughly washed. Please consult current Safety Data Sheets before beginning this activity.
The nylon produced may be washed and dried. Dispose of it in the solid waste disposal according to Flinn Suggested Disposal Method #26. Dispose of the liquid according to Flinn Suggested Disposal Method #18b.
Student Worksheet PDF
Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)†
Science & Engineering PracticesObtaining, evaluation, and communicating information
Disciplinary Core IdeasMS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
HS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
Crosscutting ConceptsStructure and function
MS-PS1-3. Gather and make sense of information to describe that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society.
Answers to Questions
Nylon is a generic name for a family of polyamide polymers. W. H. Carothers at Dupont discovered nylon in 1935. It was quickly commercialized and played an important role in World War II in clothing and parachutes. Nylon is a condensation polymer since a molecule of water or HCl is formed for each extension of the polymer chain. A common nylon product is Nylon 6/6 which is produced from the reaction of two 6-carbon compounds, hexamethylenediamine and adipoyl chloride or adipic acid.
Nylon is a thermoplastic and can be molded into shapes or extruded into a fiber. Nylon fibers are stronger and more elastic than silk and are relatively insensitive to moisture and mildew. Nylon is used in many commercial products such as hosiery, athletic apparel, bristles for toothbrushes, rugs and carpets, sails, parachutes and some astroturfs.
Special thanks to Jim and Julie Ealy, The Peddie School, Hightstown, NJ, who provided us with the instructions for this activity.