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Nippon Shokubai to begin production of novel fast-drying superabsorbent polymer

| By Mary Bailey

Nippon Shokubai Ltd. (Osaka, Japan) has developed a novel superabsorbent polymer (SAP) with super-fast-drying absorption property, which could not be achieved in the past.

Currently, the company is building a 15,000 ton/y plant at its Himeji Plant, and expects to start production and sales beginning in June 2021. Taking advantage of the unprecedented novel properties, it will also explore the possibility of creating new markets other than for sanitary articles.

In the hygiene material industry, where SAPs are primarily used, demand not only for disposable diapers for infants but also for sanitary articles for adults (disposable diapers, napkins, pads for light incontinence, etc.) has been expanding in recent years. SAP properties required for sanitary articles for adults are different from those required for disposable diapers for infants. Specifically, the ability to quickly absorb liquid (fast-drying) and the ability to prevent the absorbed liquid from leaking (liquid retention) are particularly important.

The SAP developed by Nippon Shokubai is super-fast-drying in comparison with existing products and has about three times better liquid retention property with a new production process. The idea of the new production process was derived from an experiment carried out by a researcher who happened to shift the viewpoint while aiming to develop a production process with improved efficiency. Based on the idea, the company’s research, process technology, production, and engineering departments joined their expertise and succeeded in establishing a commercial production process.

Sanitary articles using this SAP is fast-drying and the surface immediately dries up upon absorption of liquid. Also, due to the excellent liquid retention property and absorbency against pressure, they securely retain the absorbed liquid without allowing leakage. Nippon Shokubai believes that these remarkable characteristics would be able to add great value to sanitary articles for adults, which are expected to grow further in the future.