Polycarboxylates are linear polymers with a high molecular mass (Mr ≤ 100 000) and with many carboxylate groups. They are polymers of acrylic acid or copolymers of acrylic acid and maleic acid. The polymer is used as the sodium salt (see: sodium polyacrylate).
Polyamino acids like polyaspartic acid and polyglutamic acid have better biodegradability but lower chelating performance than polyacrylates. They are also less stable towards heat and alkali. Since they contain nitrogen, they contribute to eutrophication.
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