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Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) - A “multi-talent” turns seventy

Polyvinylpyrrolidone is a genuine “multi-talent” among BASF products because polyvinylpyrrolidones (PVP) are good at (almost) everything: they make sure that tablets dissolve in water, that hair spray holds your hair style and that the components of tooth paste combine to form a cream. In addition, it is due to PVP that your laundry does not lose its color during washing, that a glue stick glues, that drinking water is pure and that beer does not turn cloudy. And this is the year when our multi-talent celebrates its seventieth birthday.

On January 1st, 1939 patented by BASF

It all began around the end of 1938 or the beginning of 1939 in a BASF laboratory in Ludwigshafen. Walter Reppe, the inventor of acetylene chemistry, used acetylene and pyrrolidone to produce a new monomer called vinylpyrrolidone, which in turn can be transformed into the polymer polyvinylpyrrolidone. On January 1, 1939, Reppe‘s procedure was patented. It very quickly transpired that the BASF researcher had discovered a veritable all-rounder: PVP is water soluble but it can also absorb large quantities of water; it is non-irritant to the skin and does not pose a health hazard; it is temperature-resistant, pH-stable, non-ionic and colorless. Due to these varied features PVP can be used for a wide range of applications.

Substitute for blood plasma in the Second World War

PVP started its career as a substitute for blood plasma in the Second World War. Known as Periston, it saved the lives of thousands of people because, when combined with water, it is very similar to blood plasma. Even if, these days, other products are used for that purpose, PVP still continues to be utilized in the pharmaceutical industry: known by the registered trade name KOLLIDON®, it is used in tablets as a disintegrating or binding agent. Its disintegrant properties ensure that tablets dissolve in fluids, whiles its role as a binding agent enables the individual active constituents of a tablet to form a homogenous entity.

PVP is used for beer filtration and in hair sprays

Half of the polyvinylpyrrolidones produced by BASF are destined for the pharmaceutical sector. In addition, they are used in the cosmetics, washing powder and food industries as well as for technical applications. For example, under the trade name of LUVISKOL® PVP has been setting hair as a component of hair gels and hair sprays for over 50 years. In addition, PVP is used for the filtration of beer under the name of DIVERGAN®.

Variety of technical applications

PVP LUVITEC® is used for a large variety of technical applications. It plays an essential role, for example, in the production of membranes for micro- and ultra-filtration, which are employed for dialysis and water filtration. During the production process, the water soluble LUVITEC is washed out of the interior of the membrane. What remains is the porous structure typical of hollow fibre membranes

In addition, LUVITEC ensures that the required adhesive strength is reached in a glue stick and that controlled cooling is achieved when metal is immersed in quenching baths. In the agricultural sector, it is due to polyvinylpyrrolidones that active ingredients can develop their full effect. In ceramic, paper and dye applications, they produce visual effects such as gloss and brilliancy. It is due to these versatile application options that PVP, even at the ripe old age of 70, is still going strong. Today, BASF is the biggest producer of PVP in Europe – and an end to this success story is nowhere in sight.

Further detailed information

Further detailed information can be found at www.luvitec.de or www.luvitec.com and in this broschure (in german).
Contact us at luvitec(at)basf.com

Visit the BTC websites for further information on PVP and for applications in the

  • Electroplating, Electronic Chemicals Industry
  • Coating Industry
  • Printing Inks Industry
  • Plastics Industry
  • Adhesives Industry
  • Paper Industry
  • and more

PVP is available through BTC in Europe

BTC sells PVP through its European operations in

  • Germany
  • France
  • United Kingdom
  • Denmark
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Belgium