Friday, 23 November 2012

Practical Polysaccharides (Part 7) Converting cellulose into superabsorbents?

Part 7 of the paper by Jacek K. Dutkiewicz of Buckeye Technologies Inc given at this years Insight Conference organised by MTS in Norfolk Virginia. (Click here for Part 1)

There have been many attempts to match the performance and cost of the CMC SAP to those of the synthetic sodium polyacrylate SAP.  On both fronts, however,  these efforts have not been successful enough to make the concept commercially viable for personal hygiene applications.

For instance, one of more interesting approaches was to create cross-links within the CMC polymer simply by using heat [8].  The resultant material had high absorbent capacity (Fig. 12). However,  over time the superabsorbent properties of such a polymer tend to decline gradually.   

There were also attempts to enhance the capacity of cellulose-based SAP by creating micro-porous sponge-like structures by applying organic solvent/water exchange techniques.  For low-cost applications such solutions do not seem to be viable because of their complexity and relatively high cost.   So, the concept of replacing synthetic SAP with a cellulose-based equivalent still may wait some time for a satisfactory practical and inexpensive solution.

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