Polyvinyl Alcohol – Everything You Need to Know About

Polyvinyl Alcohol is a synthetic water-soluble polymer which happens to be white (colourless) and odourless. It is also known as PVOH, PVA, or PVAl.

The ideal formula of the Polyvinyl Alcohol or PVOH is [CH2CH(OH)]n and is widely used in the industry of papermaking, textiles and a variety of coatings.

Sometimes, it is also used as beads. So, here, in this blog post, I will be explaining each and every aspect of the Polymer called Polyvinyl Alcohol.

Let’s get started then…

Complete Details of the Polyvinyl Alcohol

Molecular Formula (C2H3OR)n where R = H or COCH3 or (CH2CHOH-)n or CH2CHOH or C2H4O
Chemical Names Ethenol Vinyl Alcohol Polyvinyl Alcohol Hydroxyethene
Molecular Weight 44.053 g/mol
Chemical Safety Flammable, Acute Toxic
IUPAC Name Ethenol
Canonical Smiles C=CO
Exact Mass 44.026 g/mol
Monoisotopic Mass 44.026 g/mol
Heavy Atom Count 3
Formal Charge 0
Complexity 10.3
Covalently-Bonded Unit Count 0
Hydrogen Bond Donar Count 1
Hydrogen Bond Acceptor Count 1
Colour/Form Colourless, Dry
Odour Odourless
Taste Tasteless
Boiling Point 644°F at 760 mm Hg approx
Melting Point 442°F (Decomposes)
Flash Point 175°F
Solubility Soluble
Density/Specific Gravity 1.19 to 1.31
Vapour Pressure Negligible
pH 5.0 to 6.5 (4% Solution)
Refractive Index Index of Refraction: 1.49 – 1.53
Properties Adhesive, Film Forming, Emulsifying
Compressibility Almost Incompressible
Poisson’s Ratio 0.42 and 0.48

Structure of the Polyvinyl Alcohol or PVA

1. 2D Structure

2D Structure of Polyvinyl Alcohol

2. 3D Structure

Polyvinyl Alcohol 3D Structure

Uses of the Polyvinyl Alcohol

There are a lot of industries where Polyvinyl Alcohol is used in bulk.

Apart from the preparations of Polyvinyl Acetals, Polyvinyl Butyral (PVB) & Polyvinyl Formal (PVF), there is a wide industry uses of the Polyvinyl Alcohol which is listed below…

  • Used in 3D Printing to support the 3D structure and later it is dissolved away
  • Used as Textile Sizing Agent
  • Used as thickener and modifier in polyvinyl acetate glues
  • Used as a paper adhesive with boric acid in solid board production & spiral tube winding
  • Useful for packaging water-soluble items
  • Used in Feminine Hygiene products
  • Used as a biodegradable plastic backing sheet
  • Used as a Carbon Dioxide barrier in Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottles
  • Used as a film used in the water transfer printing process
  • Used as children’s play putty or slime when combined with borax
  • Used as PVA fibre, as reinforcement in concrete
  • Used in eye drops and hard contact lens solution as a lubricant
  • Used in protective chemical-resistant gloves
  • PVA can be used to polarize light when doped with Iodine
  • Used as an embolization agent in medical procedures
  • Used as a raw material while creating Polyvinyl Nitrate (PVN)
  • Used as a fixative for specimen collection, especially stool samples
  • Injection moulding of soluble containers for active release of detergents and agrichemicals
  • PVA is widely used in freshwater sport fishing
  • Used as Oil and Grease resistant

White Polyvinyl Alcohol

Creation of the Polyvinyl Alcohol

PVA or PolyvinylAlcohol is not prepared by polymerization of the corresponding monomer, unlike the preparation of various other vinyl polymers.

Acetaldehyde happens to be more stable than that of the monomer Vinyl Alcohol. So, first, Vinyl Acetate is polymerized and then the Polyvinyl Acetate is converted into the Polyvinyl Alcohol.

Generally, the conversion is done by base-catalyzed transesterification with ethanol:

[CH2CH(OAc)]n + C2H5OH → [CH2CH(OH)]n + C2H5OAc

The final properties of the polymer (PVA) depend on the number of residual ester groups.

Trade Names of the Polyvinyl Alcohol

  • Gohsenol
  • Elvanol
  • Sinopac
  • Polyviol
  • Exceval
  • Selvol
  • Mowiol
  • Kuraray Poval

Some Interesting Facts About the Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA)

  • Worldwide consumption of Polyvinyl Alcohol in 2006 was over one million metric tons.
  • Some larger producers of the PVA include Kuraray and Sekisui Specialty Chemicals but in the past decade, Mainland China has installed a number of very large production facilities and currently accounts for 45% of world capacity.
  • Vinalon, which is a North Korean fibre, produced from the PVA.
  • No oil is required during the production of Polyvinyl Alcohol.

Global Industry of the Polyvinyl Alcohol

PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol) is widely used in industries like Paper Manufacturing, Food Packaging, Construction, Electronics, and various other industries.

Its global market is expected to grow up to $1.2 Billion by 2025. Here’s a stat of the Global Market share of the Polyvinyl Alcohol (2016),

Global Market Share of the Polyvinyl Alcohol
Image Source: GrandViewResearch.com


Below is another stat which shows how the consumption of the PVA in the various industries has changed over the past few years and how it will be growing in the coming years.

Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) Market as Per Various Industries

Don’t have time to read this completely Now?

No Worries, Download the PDF of “Polyvinyl Alcohol – Everything You Need to Know About” by Clicking the link below.

Download the PDF “Polyvinyl Alcohol – Everything You Need to Know About” Now

Wrapping it up!

The huge usage of the Polyvinyl Alcohol isn’t going to come to an end in the near future for sure but as it is associated with some kind of health issues, it will be good to come with an alternative.

Got a related query? Let me know in the comment section below.



  1. “Density/Specific Gravity 1.91 to 1.31” has a mistyping, should be 1.19 (not 1.91)

    1. Oh, yes!

      That’s a pretty big mistake.


      Thanks a lot Di, for pointing it out.

  2. John Onogwu says:

    How can I simply modify PVA

  3. jeff peck says:

    Do you have any PVOH abrasion test data relevant to food packaging?

  4. Does PVA break down completely in water, or does it break down into microplastics?

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