Paper Applications for Selvol Polyvinyl Alcohol

SEKISUI Specialty Chemicals offers a complete line of polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) resins for paper applications. Our manufacturing facilities in Calvert City, Kentucky; Pasadena, Texas; and Tarragona, Spain, employ advanced computer-controlled production technology to provide the highest-quality PVOH. All plants are ISO 9002 certified.

As part of our commitment to the paper industry, we maintain a fully staffed paper applications laboratory in Houston, Texas. We’ve equipped the lab with state-of-the-art analytical instruments to support applications and customers in the paper market.

paper machine process graphic

Paper Machine Applications at the Wet End

Stickies Control

Manufacturers use PVOH to control the deposition of stickies associated with the use of secondary fiber. PVOH encapsulates the stickies and forms a multilayer shield that effectively covers the surface, rendering it nontacky. U.S. Patent 4,886,575 (assigned to Betz Laboratories, Inc.) may cover this technology’s features.

PVOH may also be effective in controlling pitch deposition in Kraft, acid sulfite and ground wood papermaking systems. U.S. Patent 4,871,424 (assigned to Betz Laboratories, Inc.) may cover this technology’s features.

Note. These applications may be subject to certain U.S. patents and equivalents issued in other countries. No license is granted with the purchase of Selvol™ Polyvinyl Alcohol. Contact your SEKISUI Specialty Chemicals sales representative for more information.

Paper Machine Applications at the Size Press

Clear Sizing

PVOH finds use at the size press as a clear size to grant surface strength and barrier properties. In this capacity, manufacturers often use it to upgrade the performance of starch. PVOH performs well at this because it’s much stronger and much more resistant to oils, greases, waxes and organic solvents than other surface sizing agents.

Pigmented Surface Sizing

Because of its superior strength, manufacturers can formulate PVOH at much lower levels than other binders. This optimizes the pigment system’s brightness and opacity effects.

Ink Jet Papers

PVOH is the preferred binder for ink jet size press coating formulations using silica pigments. Its superior binding strength controls the dusting that may occur with starch. PVOH is a hydrophilic polymer that acts alongside the silica pigment to quickly absorb water-based ink into the coating layer, thus reducing wicking, mottling and bleeding.

Optical Brightener Carrier

Compared with starch, PVOH delivers 2.0-2.5 more UV brightness units, or conversely, lower levels of expensive fluorescent dye at equal brightness. This greater efficiency may allow manufacturers to reduce or eliminate fluorescent dyes at the wet end.

Oil and Grease Resistance

PVOH exhibits excellent barrier properties to oils, greases, waxes and solvents. Manufacturers use it alone or with starch to meet vanceometer, turpentine, K&N ink holdout and other specifications. PVOH is also a highly effective fluorochemical carrier. Fluorochemical-PVOH blends achieve high 3M kit ratings at a much lower cost than with fluorochemicals alone.


Surface applications of PVOH and alkyl ketene dimer (AKD) blends show outstanding improvements in Cobb and Hercules sizing (HST) values on both acid and alkaline papers, with little to no size value loss over time. Unlike starch, a PVOH surface application doesn’t degrade the internal sizing effect of a wet-end additive like AKD and alkenyl succinic anhydride (ASA).

Plybond Adhesion

PVOH’s higher strength provides an effective means of achieving plybond adhesion on multiply paperboard.

Paper Machine Applications at the Coater


Because of its superior strength, coatings with PVOH can significantly reduce the total binder level. This can create substantial cost savings while providing significantly better brightness, glossiness and opacity. Its water retention properties also allow manufacturers to formulate coatings with little to no hydrocolloid. Unlike some natural cobinders, PVOH doesn’t require a base like ammonia for solubilization.

Ink Jet Dyes

PVOH is the ideal binder for ink jet coatings with silica pigments. Compared to typical latex binders, it provides superior binding strength and improved ink jet print quality. PVOH is a hydrophilic polymer. It acts alongside the silica pigment to quickly absorb water-based ink into the coating layer, thus reducing wicking, mottling and bleeding (see “Ink Jet Papers” above).

Optical Brightener Carrier

Manufacturers know PVOH is the best carrier for fluorescent dyes. The addition of 0.5-2.0 parts (dry) PVOH per 100 parts pigment can boost brightness by an additional 4-plus units. Such improvements are considerable for high 80s/low 90s brightness papers. PVOH also provides excellent binding strength and good water retention properties, which helps reduce latex and hydrocolloid levels.

Manufacturers can use Selvol PVOH 203S, a fine-grind version of Selvol PVOH 203 (99% of particles pass through an 80-mesh screen), as a noncook carrier. They simply add it directly to a pigment dispersion or a pigmented formulation while under high shear agitation for a minimum of 15 minutes.

U.S. Patent 5,057,570 (assigned to SEKISUI Specialty Chemicals) describes using Selvol PVOH 203S in coating color formulations as a “non-cook” product, as either a pigment binder or an optical brightener carrier.

Contact us today to learn more, or request samples.

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