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Has anyone tried Polystyrene + D-Limonene?

This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Michael Stenson 1 week ago.

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Has anyone tried Polystyrene + D-Limonene?

01/05/2018 at 03:29

Hey guys, Ive been looking into ways of dissolving styrofoam to make a putty that can be hand molded. Acetone is not very environmentally friendly so Im thinking about trying D-Limonene. Has anyone had any experience with this? Does the oil ‘ruin’ the plastic?
Im a fine artist so im planning on making art objects from them- it leaves a lot of flexibility because even ‘bad’ qualities can dictate the design of the object.

Thank you! 🙂

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13/05/2018 at 20:44
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I’m trying to find ways to handle Styrofoam and #2 bag types of plastics for work.  I do the recycling for my facility and expanded polystyrene is so unwanted that our recycling vendor will landfill other recyclables if they see Styrofoam or a bunch of bags included.  This has led to a lot of experimentation.
D-limonene is basically Orange oil.  Tiny amounts of it will cause polystyrene to break down into an amorphous goo.  Just about any organic solvent will do the same: Acetone, toluene, and I’ve heard gasoline works as well. These yield a VERY flammable mixture which is rather napalm like.  There are also contact and inhalation hazards that are no joke.  If you pursue this path, download the SDS for your specific product.  Read it and understand the hazards BEFORE proceeding.  PPE will be required.
I have done a few trials.  Orange oil type products dry VERY slowly, plan for a month or so.  The nastier solvents set more quickly, like say a week, but they are much more likely to create a fire hazard, kill some irreplaceable brain cells, or maybe give you a little cancer.
The picture is of a still spongy 2 week old trial.  I filled a 5 gallon bucket with packing peanuts.  Then I added 2 cups of Orange oil.  I let it set up for a couple days then pulled a pancake of broken down polystyrene out of the solution.  I used the pictured silicone soap mold as a form. So it’s very formable, but dealing with residual solvent is a necessary issue.
A few little notes from my googling and trials: glacial acetic acid, which is essentially vinegar is supposed to “deactivate” the Orange oil.  I tried that in that trial.  The color changed and the super strong citrus scent all but disappeared. My hands still smell of oranges after handling the resulting molded product.  I also tried resting a medallion on the top of the product.  An increase in local temperature from 50F to upper 70’s softened the polystyrene enough that the medallion settled through and the residual Orange oil stripped the enameled paint and that paint can now be seen as a circular discoloration in the product.

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