How do sorbents work?

100% polypropylene is naturally hydrophoic or repels water, while like materials adhere or are attracted to the surface area of the polypropylene fibers. And since polypropylene is a petroleum derivative, it will absorb any oil or oil-based liquids.

Terminology Note: As mentioned earlier, polypropylene sorbents technically adsorb fluids, but throughout the industry the more generic "absorb" or "absorbent" is typically used. So the rest of this training will utilize the more generic industry standard.

In addition to having a lower density than water, polypropylene's natural aversion to water made these "oil only" sorbents an excellent choice for environmental clean up. Both the oil and the sorbent floated on the top of the water.

As industrial and other indoor sorbent applications emerged, sorbents were needed to clean up more than just petroleum-based spills. Water-based liquids and chemicals leak, drip and spill in manufacturing and industrial facilities around the world. So by adding a surfactant into the manufacturing process, sorbents can absorb both oil and water-based liquids - making the product hydrophilic.

Dyes are also added in to the manufacturing process to color-code sorbents - creating a very easy to use color system for identifying which sorbent you need for the job:

  • White - Oil Only 
  • Grey - Universal 
  • Green - Chemical

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