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Sodium polyacrylate, also known as waterlock, is a sodium salt of polyacrylic acid with the chemical formula [-CH2-CH(COONa)-]n and broad application in consumer products. It has the ability to absorb as much as 200 to 300 times its mass in water. Sodium polyacrylate is anionic polyelectrolytes with negatively charged carboxylic groups in the main chain. While sodium neutralized polyacrylic acids are the most common form used in industry, there are also other salts available including potassium, lithium and ammonium.
Sodium polyacrylate and other derivatives of polyacrylic acid have a wide variety of commercial and industrial uses that include:
- Sequestering agents in detergents. By binding hard water elements such as calcium and magnesium, the surfactants in detergents work more efficiently.
- Thickening agents
- Artificial snow
- Laundry detergent
- Disposable diapers
- Bath time recreational gel (such as Gellibaff or Squishybaff)
- Super absorbent polymers. These cross-linked acrylic polymers are referred to as "Super Absorbents" and "Water Crystals", and are used in diapers. Copolymer versions are used in agriculture and other specialty absorbent applications. The origins of super absorbent polymer chemistry trace back to the early 1960s when the U.S. Department of Agriculture developed the first super absorbent polymer materials. This chemical is featured in the Maximum Absorbency Garment used by NASA.
- Polyacrylamide can be co-polymerized with acrylic acid and other monomers. In cross-linked form, these blended co-polymers can yield specialty superabsorbent polymers.
- Polyacrylic acid
- "What are the components of a typical disposable diaper?", Frequently Asked Questions about Disposable Diapers. The Disposable Diaper Net (Richer Investment Diaper Consulting Services). Accessed 29 April 2009.
- History of Super Absorbent Polymer Chemistry, M2 Polymer Technologies, Inc. Accessed 29 April 2009.