Polymer Science Faculty Research

Production of superabsorbent electrospun nanofibers

Darrell Reneker, The University of Akron


The process of electrospinning utilizes a high voltage to charge a polymer solution creating an electrically charged jet, which travels to a grounded target. As the jet travels, the solution evaporates, and a dry electrically charged nanofiber remains. Many polymers can be used to produce these nanofibers, and depending upon the desired application, it may be beneficial to use molecular additives in combination with the polymer. In this study, a superabsorbent, Waterlock®, was added to a polymer solution at varying concentrations from 0% to 85% producing structured hydrogels. The superabsorbent nanofibers were tested for absorbency in water and synthetic urine. Increases in weight gain from water absorption ranged from 400-6000% depending on the amount of superabsorbent added. After reaching their equilibrium absorbency, samples were tested for strength and elasticity and were found to have excellent results, making them ideal for many uses including wound care, drug delivery, and sanitary goods.