Water soluble polymers (WSP) are water loving polymeric materials. On contact with water, these materials get dispersed, swollen or dissolved, resulting in formation of gel, thick liquid or emulsion. These materials generally contain oxygen and nitrogen atoms in their structure; hence have complex properties in solution form. Water soluble polymers can be easily synthesized with the emulsion technique and are directly used in same form. It has various functions and various applications depending upon the material used.
The major polymers in this category are polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) and copolymers, polyacrylamide (PAM) and copolymers, polyacrylic acid (PAA) and copolymers, polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH), polyethylene glycols, polyamines, polyethyleneimines and polyvinyl methyl ether. Water-soluble polymers can be obtained from natural sources such as animals, microbial and plants etc. or it can be synthetic organic substance. Semi-synthetic polymers are prepared by chemical modification reactions such as hydrolysis, cross-licking and oxidation of natural water soluble polymers.
Synthetic WSPs has to perform variety of functions in industry such as stabilizers, suspending agent, dispersing agent, gellant, thickener, coagulant, binder, film former, lubricants and flocculant. These functions are very useful during applications such as water treatment plants, food, paper, personal care, detergent, mineral, oil field and textiles etc. According to geographic region China is the largest consumer followed by Western Europe, the United States and RoW.
One of the major driving factors for water soluble polymers industry is growing investment in water waste treatment plants. Another driving factor is growth of adhesive industry. Whereas growing environmental awareness may restrict market for the synthetic water soluble polymers. Polymers for drug delivery in sea life can be one of the future trends. The Dow Chemical Company, SNF Inc. Polysciences Inc. BASF SE, E I du Pont de Nemours and Company, and GSFC Ltd. are some of the leading manufacturers for water soluble polymers.
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