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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 2, 2021

Superabsorbent polymers: a state-of-art review on their classification, synthesis, physicochemical properties, and applications

  • Dhanapal Venkatachalam and Subramanian Kaliappa EMAIL logo


Superabsorbent polymers (SAP) and modified natural polymer hydrogels are widely and increasingly used in agriculture, health care textiles, effluent treatment, drug delivery, tissue engineering, civil concrete structure, etc. However, not many comprehensive reviews are available on this class of novel polymers. A review covering all the viable applications of SAP will be highly useful for researchers, industry persons, and medical, healthcare, and agricultural purposes. Hence, an attempt has been made to review SAPs with reference to their classifications, synthesis, modification by crosslinking, and physicochemical characterization such as morphology, swellability, thermal and mechanical properties, lifetime prediction, thermodynamics of swelling, absorption, release and transport kinetics, quantification of hydrophilic groups, etc. Besides, the possible methods of fine-tuning their structures for improving their absorption capacity, fast absorption kinetics, mechanical strength, controlled release features, etc. were also addressed to widen their uses. This review has also highlighted the biodegradability, commercial viability and market potential of SAPs, SAP composites, the feasibility of using biomass as raw materials for SAP production, etc. The challenges and future prospects of SAP, their safety, and environmental issues are also discussed.

Corresponding author: Subramanian Kaliappa, Biopolymer and Biomaterial Synthesis and Analytical Testing Lab, Department of Biotechnology, Bannari Amman Institute of Technology, Sathyamangalam, 638 401, Erode Dt, Tamil Nadu, India, E-mail:


Both authors thank the management of Bannari Amman Institute of Technology for encouraging this research work.

  1. Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

  2. Research funding: None declared.

  3. Conflict of interest statement: The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding this article.


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Received: 2020-11-26
Accepted: 2021-04-24
Published Online: 2021-07-02
Published in Print: 2023-01-27

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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