Difference Between Nitrile and Latex

Main Difference – Nitrile vs Latex

The term nitrile is used to name any organic compound that has a –CN group as a functional group. Nitrile compounds can have different chemical and physical properties depending on the group attached to the –CN group. Nitrile rubber is a common nitrile compound that has many industrial applications. Nitrile rubber is very useful and has favorable qualities over other types of rubber. Latex is a colloidal dispersion. This means latex is composed of water-insoluble colloids dispersed throughout the liquid along with water-soluble components that are dissolved in water. The main difference between nitrile and latex is that nitrile refers to any organic compound that has a –CN group whereas latex refers to a colloidal dispersion obtained either naturally or synthetically.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Nitrile
      – Definition, Chemical Properties
2. What is Latex
      – Definition, Occurrence, Uses
3. What is the Difference Between Nitrile and Latex
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Acrylonitrile, Butadiene, Elasticity, Electronegative, Latex, Natural Rubber, Nitrile, Nitrile Rubber, Polarity

Difference Between Nitrile and Latex - Comparison Summary

What is Nitrile

A nitrile is any organic compound that has a –CN group. The molecular structure of a nitrile can be given as R-C≡N. There is a triple bond between a carbon atom and a nitrogen atom. The bond angle of R-C-N bond is 180o. Therefore, functional groups of nitriles are linear structures.

The nitrogen atom is highly electronegative. Due to the difference between electronegativity values of carbon and nitrogen, a polarity is induced, making nitrile compounds polar. Since these are very polar molecules, nitriles have higher boiling points than molecules with the same size. Nitrile compounds cannot form hydrogen bonds (if there are no other hydrogen bond-forming functional groups). Small nitrile compounds are soluble in water due to their polarity. But large nitrile compounds are not soluble.

Main Difference - Nitrile vs Latex

Figure 1: A Disposable Nitrile Glove

A common example of an industrially important nitrile compound is nitrile rubber. Nitrile rubber is a synthetic polymer. The monomers used for the production are acrylonitrile and butadiene. Products such as gloves made out of nitrile rubber have many advantages over natural rubber products. Such examples include chemical resistance, long shelf life, good puncture resistance, etc.

What is Latex

Latex is a colloidal dispersion of polymer particles in a liquid. It has a milky white appearance. Latex can be found in cells of some flowering plants. The most common and valuable plant is Rubber tree. Rubber tree latex is obtained for industrial uses. Synthetic latex is also available as water emulsions consisting of synthetic rubber or plastic.

Natural latex is a complex mixture of different components. It is composed of different water-insoluble components in colloidal form and water-soluble components dissolved in it. Latex containing plants exude latex when plant tissues are damaged. Some components in latex can get coagulated when exposed to air.  

Difference Between Nitrile and Latex

Figure 2: Natural Rubber Latex coming out from a Rubber Plant

Natural rubber is the most important product obtained from rubber latex. This natural rubber is used for the production of many other items that we use in our day to day life. The valuable properties of natural rubber include biodegradability, good elasticity, and durability. But there are also some drawbacks such as shorter shelf life, allergies, etc. Allergies are due to the presence of proteins in the latex. These proteins can cause skin allergies in people who are sensitive to allergy reactions. Synthetic latex is used in paint industry to produce latex paint. These paints do not release toxic compounds to the environment. Synthetic latex is also used as a cement additive.

Difference Between Nitrile and Latex

Definition

Nitrile: Nitrile refers to any organic compound that has a –CN group.

Latex: Latex refers to a colloidal dispersion of polymer particles in a liquid.

Components

Nitrile: Nitrile compounds are essentially composed of organic compounds having –CN functional group.

Latex: Latex is a complex mixture of different components including colloids and water-soluble components.

Occurrence

Nitrile: Nitrile compounds can naturally occur in animal and plant sources but mostly obtained as a synthetic product.

Latex: Latex is mainly found in tissues of some flowering plants.

Shelf Life

Nitrile: Products formed from nitrile compounds have a long shelf life.

Latex: Products obtained from latex and have a short shelf life.

Conclusion

Nitrile and latex are two common chemical names that are used in industries. Nitrile compounds and latex are very useful in the production of different items that we need in our daily needs. These compounds are chosen based on their properties and the desirable properties of the final product. The main difference between nitrile and latex is that nitrile is any organic compound that has a –CN group whereas latex is a colloidal dispersion obtained either naturally or synthetically.

References:

1. “Latex.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 30 Jan. 2014, Available here.
2. “20.7 Chemistry of Nitriles.” Chemistry LibreTexts, Libretexts, 25 Aug. 2017, Available here.
3. “Latex.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Oct. 2017, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Disposable nitrile glove” Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “1985 Rubber Tree in Johor Malaysia. Spielvogel Archiv” By Spielvogel- Own work (CC0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Madhusha

Madhusha is a BSc (Hons) graduate in the field of Biological Sciences and is currently pursuing for her Masters in Industrial and Environmental Chemistry. Her interest areas for writing and research include Biochemistry and Environmental Chemistry.

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