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Acrylic Acid: From Diapers to Paint

Published: 20 May 2015 01:05:39 PST

After an abnormal chemical reaction, a fire broke out at Nippon Shokubai Co.'s plant in Japan. An acrylic acid storage residue tank exploded around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, the fire later spread to another acrylic acid tank and a toluene tank. The plant produces about 20% of the world's SAP and 10% of global output of acrylic acid. 

Nippon Shokubai Co., LTD in Japan

The monomer of poly (PAA, CAS number 9003-1-04) is acrylic acid; a high volume chemical that feeds into a broad range of products.  Used to make highly water-absorbent resins, one of the main applications is in the manufacturing of super-absorbent polymers that can soak up large amounts of liquid – mainly disposable diapers. A super-absorbent polyacrylic acid (SAP) was patented in 1966 by Gene Harper of Dow Chemical and Carlyle Harmon of Johnson & Johnson; it was first used in diapers in 1982. Nippon Shokubai is one of the world's biggest makers of acrylic acid, the main ingredient of a resin called SAP.

Polyacrylic acid is found in a wide variety of household and personal care products:

    • Hand sanitizer
    • Mascara
    • Aftershave
    • Toothpaste
    • Hair-styling products (gels, dyes, sprays)
    • Moisturizer
    • Pet shampoo
    • Metal polish

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