// 23.08.2023

Hidden heroes: Selvol™ Polyvinyl Alcohol

SEKISUI offers a comprehensive product range in Europe, which is a vast array of innovative high-performance materials for applications in four different business sectors: mobility, electronics, medical and diagnostics as well as construction & infrastructure. With the series “Hidden Heroes”, we are taking a closer look at SEKISUI’s portfolio and offer deep but simple insights into the products of the European companies. Today, you will learn about Selvol™ Polyvinyl Alcohol, produced by SEKISUI SPECIALITY CHEMICALS.

The versatility of Selvol™

Selvol™ is a white, granular, water-soluble resin manufactured by polymerizing vinyl acetate monomer and saponifying the resultant polymer to produce the polymer. Due to its unique properties, Selvol™ is a highly versatile polymer with a wide range of market applications.

What contributes to this versality is the high number of grades Selvol™ offers. The product’s grades are differentiated by two main characteristics: molecular weight and hydrolysis. Differences in molecular weight can often be spotted quickly in liquid solutions as higher molecular weight polymers are more viscose or ‘thick’ than lower molecular weight polymers.

While the molecular weight reflects the length of the polymer chain, hydrolysis describes variance in the composition or structure of the polymer itself. Differences in hydrolysis are more difficult to observe immediately, the degree of hydrolysis effects the solubility and moisture resistance of the Selvol polymer.  

Both characteristics correspond to the informal concept of "thickness" – the higher the molecular weight and degree of hydrolysis, the thicker the product – and are the basis for the various different grades with performance properties for various applications. 

Various applications of Selvol™

Selvol™ is all around us

Areas in which Selvol™ is applied are, for example, adhesives, films and packing, oil field cementing, paper and inks, textiles, building and construction, personal care, agriculture, and mobility.

One important application of Selvol™ is the production of polyvinyl butyral, which is mainly used for interlayer films applied in car windows or glass for buildings. The resin produced by SEKISUI SPECIALTY CHEMICALS is converted to PVB film by sister company SEKISUI S-LEC.

Aside from being a key component in interlayer film for glass, two other common applications are paper and adhesives.

In paper, Selvol™ is used to coat ink jet paper so printed ink sits on top instead of sinking into the paper pulp. The same effect occurs with optical brightening agents, which provide paper with its bright white shade. Selvol™ also acts as an oil and grease resistant product, which is often used to wrap burgers or fries to help coat the paper and keep the oil from seeping through.

As an adhesive, it is a key ingredient in glue for cellulosic substances like wood, paper, and fabric. It is sometimes added to other formulations like grout glue and sealing materials to help adjust open time (required time before adhesion takes effect). Selvol™ is also used as an adhesive in ceramics and electronics.

High level of expertise

Based in Dallas, Texas, SEKISUI SPECIALTY CHEMICALS is a leading polyvinyl alcohol supplier with manufacturing facilities in Calvert City, Kentucky, Pasadena, Texas, and Tarragona, Spain. The combined capacity of the three plants makes SEKISUI a leading global merchant supplier of polyvinyl alcohol. Since the introduction of Selvol™, SEKISUI has developed a high level of expertise in both the production and use of PVOH.

Learn more about the other products of SEKISUI SPECIALTY CHEMICALS