Polyvinyl alcohol

Polyvinyl alcohol
Polyvinyl alcohol
CAS number 9002-89-5 YesY
KEGG C00980 N
RTECS number TR8100000
Molecular formula (C2H4O)x
Density 1.19-1.31 g/cm³
Melting point


Boiling point


MSDS External MSDS
NFPA 704
NFPA 704.svg
Flash point 79.44°C
LD50 14,700 mg/kg (Mouse)
 N alcohol (verify) (what is: YesY/N?)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox references

Polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH, PVA, or PVAl) is a water-soluble synthetic polymer (not to be confused with polyvinyl acetate, a popular wood glue).



Polyvinyl alcohol has excellent film forming, emulsifying and adhesive properties. It is also resistant to oil, grease and solvent. It is odorless and nontoxic. It has high tensile strength and flexibility, as well as high oxygen and aroma barrier properties. However these properties are dependent on humidity, in other words, with higher humidity more water is absorbed. The water, which acts as a plasticiser, will then reduce its tensile strength, but increase its elongation and tear strength. PVA is fully degradable and dissolves quickly. PVA has a melting point of 230°C and 180–190°C(356-374 degrees Fahrenheit) for the fully hydrolysed and partially hydrolysed grades, respectively. It decomposes rapidly above 200°C as it can undergo pyrolysis at high temperatures.

PVA is an atactic material but exhibits crystallinity as the hydroxyl groups are small enough to fit into the lattice without disrupting it.

PVA is close to incompressible. The Poisson's ratio has been measured to between 0.42 and 0.48.[1]


Polyvinyl alcohol is the raw material to make other polymers like:

  • Polyvinyl nitrate (PVN): It is an ester of nitric acid and polyvinyl alcohol.
  • Polyvinyl acetals: Polyvinyl acetals are prepared by reacting aldehydes with polyvinyl alcohol. Polyvinyl butyral (PVB) and polyvinyl formal (PVF) are examples of this family of polymers. They are prepared from polyvinyl alcohol by reaction with butyraldehyde and formaldehyde, respectively. Preparation of polyvinyl butyral is the largest use for polyvinyl alcohol in the U.S. and Western Europe.

Polyvinyl alcohol is used as a emulsion polymerization aid, as protective colloid, to make polyvinyl acetate dispersions. This is the largest market application in China.

In Japan its major use is vinylon fiber production.[2]

Some other uses of polyvinyl alcohol include:

  1. Paper adhesive with boric acid in spiral tube winding and solid board production
  2. Thickener, modifier, in polyvinyl acetate glues
  3. Textile sizing agent
  4. paper coatings, release liner,
  5. As a water-soluble film useful for packaging. An example is the envelope containing laundry detergent in "liqui-tabs".
  6. Feminine hygiene and adult incontinence products as a biodegradable plastic backing sheet.
  7. Carbon dioxide barrier in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles
  8. As a film used in the water transfer printing process
  9. As a mold release because materials such as epoxy do not stick to it
  10. Movie practical effect and children's play putty or slime when combined with borax
  11. Used in eye drops and hard contact lens solution as a lubricant
  12. PVA fiber, as reinforcement in concrete
  13. As a surfactant for the formation of polymer encapsulated nanobeads
  14. Used in protective chemical-resistant gloves
  15. Used as a fixative for specimen collection, especially stool samples
  16. When doped with iodine, PVA can be used to polarize light
  17. As an embolization agent in medical procedures
  18. Carotid phantoms for use as synthetic vessels in Doppler flow testing
  19. As agent in artificial Tears for treatment of dry eye.
  20. See more specific polyvinyl alcohol uses

The North Korean-manufacture fiber Vinalon is produced from polyvinyl alcohol. Despite its inferior properties as a clothing fiber, it is produced for self-sufficiency reasons, because no oil is required to produce it.


PVA is widely used in freshwater sport fishing. Small bags made from PVA are filled with dry or oil based bait and attached to the hook, or the baited hook is placed inside the bag and cast into the water. When the bag lands on the lake or river bottom it breaks down, leaving the hook bait surrounded by ground bait, pellets etc. This method helps attract fish to the hook bait.

Anglers also use string made of PVA for the purpose of making temporary attachments. For example, holding a length of line in a coil, that might otherwise tangle while the cast is made.


Consumption of polyvinyl alcohol was over one million metric tons in 2006.[2] Larger producers include Kuraray (Japan and Europe) and Sekisui Specialty Chemicals (USA) but mainland China has installed a number of very large production facilities in the past decade and currently accounts for 45% of world capacity.


Unlike many vinyl polymers, PVA is not prepared by polymerization of the corresponding monomer. The monomer, vinyl alcohol, almost exclusively exists as the tautomeric form, acetaldehyde. PVA instead is prepared by partial or complete hydrolysis (sometimes referred to in this case as saponification) of polyvinyl acetate to remove acetate groups.

See also


  1. ^ Characterization of PVA cryogel for intravascular ultrasound elasticity imaging, Fromageau, J.; Brusseau, E.; Vray, D.; Gimenez, G.; Delachartre, P.; IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control, Volume: 50, Issue: 10. 2003, Page(s): 1318 - 1324.
  2. ^ a b SRI Consulting CEH Report Polyvinyl Alcohol, published March 2007, abstract retrieved July 30, 2008.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • polyvinyl alcohol — noun : a polymer of vinyl alcohol; especially : a thermoplastic resin that is soluble or swells in water, that if obtained by complete hydrolysis of polyvinyl acetate has the formula [−CH2CH(OH)−]x or if by partial hydrolysis contains some… …   Useful english dictionary

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  • Polyvinyl-alcohol dehydrogenase (acceptor) — In enzymology, a polyvinyl alcohol dehydrogenase (acceptor) (EC number| is an enzyme that catalyzes the chemical reaction:polyvinyl alcohol + acceptor ightleftharpoons oxidized polyvinyl alcohol + reduced acceptorThus, the two… …   Wikipedia

  • Polyvinyl-alcohol oxidase — In enzymology, a polyvinyl alcohol oxidase (EC number| is an enzyme that catalyzes the chemical reaction:polyvinyl alcohol + O2 ightleftharpoons oxidized polyvinyl alcohol + H2O2Thus, the two substrates of this enzyme are polyvinyl… …   Wikipedia

  • polyvinyl alcohol — noun A water soluble synthetic polymer prepared by partial or complete hydrolysis of polyvinyl acetate to remove acetate groups, having many uses, including as an adhesive and surfactant and in freshwater angling. Abbreviations: PVA, PVAL, PVOH …   Wiktionary

  • polyvinyl alcohol — a water soluble plastic used by anglers in Europe as bags to hold ground bait or as string for tying on boilies, q.v., or pellets. The bags or strings dissolve gradually in water and release the baits to attract fish. See PVA bag and PVA tape.… …   Dictionary of ichthyology

  • polyvinyl alcohol — A compound, CH2(CHOH)n, that is soluble in water; an adhesive and emulsifier. * * * [USP] a water soluble synthetic resin, represented by the formula (C2H4O)n, in which n varies between 500 and 5000; used as a viscosity increasing agent in… …   Medical dictionary

  • Polyvinyl nitrate — (PVN) is a polymeric explosive material, an ester of nitric acid and polyvinyl alcohol. It is prepared by nitration of polyvinyl alcohol. It is a thermoplastic substance with softening zone between 30 45 °C, depending on the molecular weight of… …   Wikipedia

  • Polyvinyl acetate — (PVA or PVAc) is a rubbery synthetic polymer. It is prepared by polymerization of vinyl acetate monomer, also referred to as VAM. Partial or complete hydrolysis of the polymer is used to prepare polyvinyl alcohol. Hydroylized alcohol product is… …   Wikipedia

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