What are Super Absorbent Polymers?

Super Absorbent Polymers are polymers that have the unique ability to absorb and retain large volumes of water and other aqueous solutions relative to their own mass. This tremendous absorption capacity makes super absorbent polymers an ideal material to use in a variety of environmental applications such as treatment industrial wastage.

They are made from partially neutralised poly-acrylic acid and are the key ingredients in disposable diapers, feminine hygiene and adult incontinence products. In deionized and distilled water, it can absorb almost 500 times its weight (from 30–60 times its own volume). It is widely used for blocking water penetration in underground power or communications cable, horticultural water retention agents, control of spill and waste aqueous fluid, artificial snow for motion picture and stage production.

The first commercial use was in 1978 for use in feminine napkins in Japan and disposable bed liners for nursing home patients in the USA.

In the aftermath of the Fukushima-I nuclear accidents, in order to stop the highly radioactive water leak near the reactor , TEPCO did a failed attempt to plug a trench leading to a damaged storage pit with a combination of super absorbent polymer, sawdust and shredded newspaper.