Hydrophilic polymers are those polymers which dissolve in, or are swollen by, water. Many compounds of major technical and economic importance fall within this definition, including many polymers of natural origin. Many foodstuffs—containing substantial amounts of carbohydrate and protein— can be classified as hydrophilic polymers, and some have important technical and industrial uses, apart from their nutritional value. For example, although over 95% of the starches produced from corn (maize), wheat, potato, tapioca, and other vegetable sources are used as foods (human or animal), the remaining quantity represents an important part of the technical polymer market. In fact, more than two-thirds of hydrophilic or water-soluble polymers used in industry are derived from polymers of natural origin, so coming from renewable resources (harvested crops, trees, waste animal products and so on), rather than petrochemical sources of finite availability.


Hydrophilic Polymer Polymethacrylic Acid Sodium Carboxymethyl Cellulose Cellulose Ether Hydroxypropyl Cellulose 
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Further reading

  1. Davidson R.L. (Ed.) (1980) Handbook of water soluble gums and resins. McGraw-Hill, New York.Google Scholar
  2. Finch C.A. (Ed.) (1983) Chemistry and techology of water soluble polymers. Plenum Press, New York and London.Google Scholar
  3. Finch C.A. (Ed.) (1973) Polyvinyl alcohol: properties and applications. Wiley, Chichester and New York.Google Scholar
  4. Molyneux P. (1983) Water soluble synthetic polymers: properties and behaviour. 2 Vols. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.Google Scholar
  5. Ward A.G. and Courts A. (Eds) (1977) Science and technology of gelatin. Academic Press, London.Google Scholar
  6. Whistler R.L. (Ed.) (1973) Industrial gums. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Blackie & Son Ltd 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. A. Finch

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