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Ethylene (C2H4), colorless, flammable organic gas. Ethylene is one of the most important industrial chemicals. Found in both petroleum and natural gas, it is obtained in large quantities by heating ethane and propane with steam. Ethylene is polymerized (combined into large molecules) to form polyethylene, a plastic widely used in packaging and other manufactures. Ethylene is also used to make styrene for other plastics. Converted to ethylene oxide, it is used to make ethylene glycol (antifreeze), and in various solvents and detergents. Ethylene occurs in plants, acting as a growth regulator; it is used commercially to help ripen fruit.

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