Emupol® polymer emulsions: Industrial uses & benefits

emulsion polymers

Water-based polymer dispersions and emulsions are simple yet effective products which can enhance product formulations, from paints & coatings to sealants and concrete.

At RBH, we specialise in working with businesses that require products to drive innovation in their processes and meet the evolving needs of their customers.  Our Emupol® range is a stand-out range of products that lead the way in this field. In this blog, we’ll look into the role that Emupol® polymer emulsions play in industrial applications and how they can benefit your formulations.

But first, let’s cover the basics.

Dispersions and emulsions

A dispersion is a mixture of one substance phase separated from another substance, as opposed to a solution where one substance is dissolved in another. Emulsions are thermodynamically unstable liquid/liquid dispersions that are stabilised by an amphiphile or surfactant. Polymer emulsions generally refer to systems where fine polymer particles are evenly and continuously dispersed within water.

Polymer dispersions are generally separated into water-based and non-water-based (solvent-based)

Solvent-based polymer dispersions

These systems use an organic solvent as the main medium instead of water. This could be anything like acetone, alcohol, or oil. Solvents would typically be chosen for applications where water isn’t suitable, such as needing quick drying times or special chemical properties. For example, an industrial glue that dries fast might use a non-aqueous dispersion with acetone as the main solvent.

As the paints and coatings industry moves towards being more green and environmentally conscious, solvent-based systems are becoming less common.

Key advantages:

●   Special applications: Required for certain uses where water isn’t a suitable medium for the active component, but similar end properties are desired.

●   Quick drying: Solvents such as acetone tend to dry much quicker than water.

●   Unique properties: They can provide characteristics that water-based products can’t, such as chemical resistance.

Water-based polymer dispersions or polymer emulsions

Sometimes referred to interchangeably as water-based polymer dispersions or latex, these are systems where the polymer particles are dispersed in water.

Since water is the liquid medium instead of organic solvents potentially containing VOCs, these systems are often favoured for environmental reasons and formulations based on polymer emulsions are becoming more and more common.

Key advantages:

●       Eco-friendly: The use of water reduces harmful chemical emissions

●       Easy cleaning: Any tools or surfaces that come into contact with it can be cleaned using water, without the need for harsh solvents

●       Safe: Generally safer to handle and use than solvent-based dispersions

This dispersion can be stabilised through the use of surfactants or other stabilising agents to prevent the polymer particles from settling and maintain a uniform suspension. They are then added to product formulations to create specific characteristics such as increased strength or durability.

polymer dispersion in liquid

Key components of polymer emulsions and how they work

  1. Polymer particles: Polymer emulsions contain small polymer particles, typically between 100-1000nm in size. These small bits of plastic or rubber-like material are produced through emulsion polymerisation. Once dry they give the dispersion its useful properties, like making glue sticky or paint durable.
  2. Continuous phase: This refers to the liquid in which the tiny polymer particles are spread out, it helps to distribute them evenly and makes the product easy to work with and apply. Water is used here as it’s not only safe to handle but also environmentally friendly.
  3. Stabilisers: Surfactants or other stabilising agents are used to help maintain the dispersion by preventing the polymer particles from agglomerating or clustering together. This helps maintain the workability of the product.

Emupol® emulsion polymers

Emupol® is a range of high-quality water-based polymer dispersions and emulsions, designed for use in a wide range of applications.

The Emupol® range includes water-based homopolymer, copolymer & terpolymer dispersions and a spectrum of chemistries which include acrylic, styrene acrylic, PVA, SBR, VA/VeoVa and VA Acrylates.

We offer products to work within existing formulations and as part of new product development.

Industrial applications of Emupol®

These products are widely used to improve the formulations of various industrial products within the coatings, adhesives, sealants, construction, and agriculture industries, acting as a binder to provide specific performance characteristics.

●       Paints: Emupol® acts as the binder that holds pigment particles together and allows the paint to form a continuous coating. This helps paint applications to have a smooth, durable finish that resists peeling and cracking.

●       Coatings: In coating formulations, Emupol® works to increase durability and resistance to water and wear, making it ideal for applications such as outdoor wooden surfaces.

●       Adhesives: Emupol® enhances the adhesive strength, flexibility, and resistance to water in products such as glue and paste. It also makes them easy to apply and clean up whilst curing quickly to form a durable bond.

●       Sealants: Often used in sealants for filling gaps and joints in materials like concrete, brick and metal, Emupol® offers excellent adhesion and flexibility allowing the sealant to expand and contract with temperature changes without cracking.

●       Construction: Emupol® is commonly used in the construction industry, for example, when added to concrete mixtures it improves workability, performance and durability.

●       Agriculture: Emupol® dispersions can be used to coat agricultural equipment, providing a protective layer against corrosion and wear. This contributes to a lengthened lifespan and reduces the need for frequent maintenance and replacement.

emupol used in industrial coating application

Why use Emupol polymer emulsions?

Creating the perfect formulation, whether that be a paint, coating, adhesive or any other product is the key to success for manufacturers. Using the right products gives the ability to tailor the properties of formulations so that they behave above and beyond customer requirements. The Emupol® range and technical support from the RBH team will allow formulators to develop the next generation of products.

Working with businesses across a broad range of industries, we’ve seen the growth in demand for sustainable and efficient materials, and polymer emulsions play a role in achieving this.

If you’re looking for the perfect polymer emulsion for your application, we can help. We work with businesses to transform their formulations and improve product performance across a range of specialist markets.

The RBH Group is proud to be a trusted supplier of all Emupol® polymer emulsions. We can recommend the most suitable product for your specific requirements, get in touch with us to find out more.