Potassium Polyacrylate - Superabsorbent Polymer (SAP)

May 3, 2021

Everything about Potassium Polyacrylate โ€“ Superabsorbent Polymer for Agriculture.

Potassium polyacrylate - Water retaining agent

What is a superabsorbent polymer (SAP)?

Potassium polyacrylate is a kind of superabsorbent polymer. So, what is a superabsorbent polymer (SAP)?

As an advanced physical absorbent material, SAP can quickly absorb a large amount of water and lock it firmly. When the water absorption reaches saturation, it changes from a powder or granular state to a hydrogel state.

Generally, the water absorption capacity of SAP can reach hundreds of times of its own. For special purposes, it can reach thousands of times.

As an eco-friendly material, it is totally non-toxic, harmless, and nonpolluting.

What is potassium polyacrylate?

Potassium polyacrylate is a type of SAPs for plants as a water-retaining agent.

Compared with ordinary SAP, agriculture grade SAP (potassium polyacrylate) has undergone post-processing in the production process (such as grafting), which makes it have the unique advantages of being specially used in agriculture:

  • Change the cation of the polymer from sodium ion to potassium ion. This not only eliminates the risk of soil salinization caused by sodium ions, but also fertilizes the soil with potassium ions after decomposition.
  • Extends the decomposition time in nature. Generally, ordinary SAP will melt and decompose after absorbing water to form a gel in about a month, while SAP for agricultural use can repeatedly absorb and release water in the soil for dozens of months.
  • Improved water absorption capacity in the soil: increased pressure absorption and ionized water absorption.

These advantages make it like a โ€œmini reservoirโ€: it absorbs enough water and stores it during the rainy season or during irrigation, and then continuously provides water to the plants when the soil is dry.

As a result, it brings many intuitive benefits to agriculture such as:

  • improve seed germination & emergence, give plants an early, healthy start;
  • contains Potassium 18.3% and releases the fertilizer efficiency slowly;
  • save the irrigation and improve the soil water holding capacity by 85% (for sand);
  • increase crops and fruit yield by 70% (for melon planting in California).

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How does it work?

Agriculture grade SAP consists of a set of polymeric chains that are parallel to each other and regularly linked to each other by cross-linking agents, thus forming a network.

When water comes into contact with one of these chains, it is drawn into the molecule by osmosis. Water rapidly migrates into the interior of the polymer network where it is stored. Thatโ€™s how SAP powder turns to water gel.

As this water gelโ€™s absorption ability is bigger than soil but less than roots of plants, the absorbed water by SAP will be released to plants when it is dry.

Tips: the specific retention of agriculture SAP is 1.3-1.4 MPa and the specific retention of roots is about 1.6-1.7 MPa.

Test the Potassium Polyacrylate

Water Holding Capacity Test

Test objective

Performance Study in varying soil classifications (test the water retention capacity of SAP in different soils)

Sample volumes Used

Soil: 500ml; Water: 750ml; SAP: 5 gram;

Test 01 โ€“ Soil Type: 100% Sand

Test itemControl Group (without SAP) โ€“ 762gTest Group (with SAP) โ€“ 768g
Water passing (ml)425150
Water retaining (ml)325600
% retaining43.380
% increaseโ€“85

Test 02 โ€“ Soil Type: 37% Sand + 40% Silt + 25% Clay

Test itemControl Group (without SAP) โ€“ 615gTest Group (with SAP) โ€“ 626g
Water passing (ml)275100
Water retaining (ml)475650
% retaining63.386
% increaseโ€“36

Test 03 โ€“ Soil Type: 30% Sand + 48% Silt + 22% Clay

Test itemControl Group (without SAP) โ€“ 407gTest Group (with SAP) โ€“ 400g
Water passing (ml)352200
Water retaining (ml)398550
% retaining53.173.3
% increaseโ€“38

Laboratory Test ( wilting point )


Is potassium polyacrylate biodegradable?

Yes. The starch-grafted potassium polyacrylate is biodegradable. In addition, other types of potassium polyacrylate for agriculture and forestry can be continuously decomposed naturally in the soil. The decomposed product is water, carbon dioxide, and ammonia gas will not pollute the soil.

It is worth mentioning that sodium polyacrylate is very similar to potassium polyacrylate in appearance. Still, it will form sodium ions after decomposing in soil, causing soil compaction and salinization, so you must pay attention when purchasing.

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