Superabsorbent polymers also known as SAPs are polymers (polymers are large molecule or macromolecule which is composed of many repeated subunits such as polystyrene or natural biopolymers (DNA and proteins) these substances are fundamental to biological structure and function) that can absorb and retain extremely large amounts of a liquid compared to their own mass. Polymers (natural and synthetic) are created by the process of polymerization of many small molecules such as monomers (molecule that can chemically bind two or more molecules to form a polymer). Superabsorbent has the ability to absorb water is due to the property of ionic concentration of the aqueous solution. Water-absorbing polymers known as hydrogels, which when cross-linked absorb aqueous solutions through hydrogen bonding with water molecules.
Superabsorbent polymers can absorb around 500 times of liquid than its actual weight (30 to 60 times than its actual volume) and converting itself complete (99.9%) into liquid. However, when these superabsorbent polymers are put into 0.9% saline solution their absorbent property drops to more than 50 times of its actual weight. Absorbent or swelling capacity of the superabsorbent polymers are controlled by the types of cross-linking polymers used to make the gel. Low-density cross-linked polymers generally have higher absorbing and swelling capacity and vice-versa.
On the bases of absorbent materials used to manufacture superabsorbent polymers the global superabsorbent polymers market can be bifurcated into sodium polyacrylate, polyacrylat or polyacrylamide copolymer and others. On the bases of end-users the global superabsorbent polymers market can be divided into baby diapers, adult diapers, female hygiene products, agriculture and others. Diaper and hygiene product manufacturers companies are the major end-user of superabsorbent polymers used as solidification medium in the products. Other major applications of the superabsorbent polymers are in the field of agriculture (used to increase the water absorption capacity of the soil in the drought specific area), medical and construction industries.
North America has the largest market share for superabsorbent polymers, followed by Europe and Asia-Pacific. The U.S. is the largest consumer of superabsorbent polymers substances owing to its variety of uses. North America is expected to dominate the market in the forecasted period; Europe is expected to shoe average growth. However, Asia-Pacific region is expected to witness highest growth in the coming future owing to increasing end-users industries demand in the developing markets of India and China.
Increasing hygiene awareness among the individual is driving the global superabsorbent polymers market. Additionally, rising urban population paired with improved quality diaper products is further increasing the demand for super absorbent polymers substances in the global market. Increasing disposable income especially in the developing countries such as India and China, where people are investing more on hygienic products is further boosting the demand of superabsorbent polymers products in these markets. According to the National Bureau of Statistics China, annual per capita disposable income of urban households in China increased from USD 2,271.0 in 2008 to USD 3408.5 in 2012. The overall annual disposable income in India medium household income increased from USD 1,366.2 billion in 2010 to USD 1,587.6 billion in 2013. However, high price associated with acrylic acid (main raw material used to manufacture superabsorbent polymers) is expected to hamper the market, but at a very low level.
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Consumer’s willingness to spend more on hygienic products has influenced the market players to increase their production capacities especially in the Asia-Pacific region. Some of the major companies operating in the global superabsorbent market are BASF SE, Formosa Plastics Co., Sumitomo Seika Chemicals Co. Ltd., SDP Global Co. Ltd., LG Chem Ltd., Nippon Shokubai Co. Ltd., Evonik Industries AG, Procter &Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, KAO Corporation, Songwon Industrial Co. Ltd. and Yixing Danson Technology.
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