Why Should Polyvinyl Alcohol Grades Matter to You?

With the demand for sustainable packaging and other products on the rise and the growing bans on single-use plastics, its time we got down and dirty and learned what is going on with polyvinyl alcohol grades. 

Don’t believe this is a big deal? The water-soluble packaging market is expected to reach USD 3.7 billion by 2025!

Read on to learn why the different polyvinyl alcohol grades matter!

What Is Polyvinyl Alcohol?

Polyvinyl alcohol is basically a water-soluble polymer or plastic replacement. It’s used in packaging, plastic gloves, films, and textile applications, amongst others.

This eco-friendly alternative, when dissolved in water, leaves behind a non-toxic aqueous solution. This is a much happier alternative to filling our landfills with non-biodegradable plastics. 

Polyvinyl alcohol is a water-soluble polymer. It is an effective solution to waste management and protecting our environment. 

Not All Polyvinyl Alcohol Products Are Created Equally

What will you or your company be creating with polyvinyl alcohol? Knowing your end-use application for PVA is the first step to determining which grade is right for your product. 

You wouldn’t necessarily use the same grade of polyvinyl alcohol for a liquid detergent pod as you would, say, a cigarette filter. 

Polyvinyl alcohol is a popular choice for adhesives, bags, and biodegradable gloves. But the polymers used in these types of products may not work in all industries across the board.

For instance, in the medical and pharmaceutical world, polyvinyl alcohol must be stabilized. This helps overcome the effects of aging. 

The Polyvinyl Alcohol Grades

Polyvinyl alcohol grades are determined by their degree of hydrolysis. The degrees of hydrolysis is determined by how water-soluble the polyvinyl resin is. 

The degree of hydrolysis is referred to and measured as super, fully, intermediate, and partially hydrolyzed.

Within these denotations, the degree of hydrolysis can be further broken down and fit to your specific application. 

All polyvinyl alcohol is water-soluble and will fully degrade. So the different grades on this scale can be used to determine how long it will take for the PVA to fully dissolve.

The different degrees of hydrolysis will have different end uses not only based on water solubility but by viscosities as well.

The viscosities of the PVA resins are broken down into grades of ultra-low, low, medium, and high. 

Polyvinyl alcohol polymers are generally unchanged by grease. They are also resilient to petroleum hydrocarbons, and animal or vegetable oils. 

As the degree of hydrolysis increases, so does the resistance to these types of organic solvents. 

Polyvinyl alcohol solubility on the lower end of the scale will behave differently than those on the higher end. Partially hydrolyzed PVA will have better adhesion to hydrophobic surfaces.

So…PVA Grades DO Matter

So now we’re all a little more comfortable with the different polyvinyl alcohol grades and have an idea of how the grade will affect our end-use. 

Well, now what do we do? Let us go forth and save the world one biodegradable plastic alternative at a time!

So get in touch with a reputable polyvinyl alcohol dealer to learn more about the different grades and their uses.