A Comprehensive Guide to Polyacrylamide (PAM) Products: Types, Applications, and Usage Methods

Table of Contents

Polyacrylamide, also known as PAM, is a term used to describe acrylamide (AM) and its derived copolymers and homopolymers. In industrial production, any material containing more than half of the acrylamide monomer-type polymers can be referred to as polyacrylamide.PAM products are available in various forms, such as gel, emulsion, granules, beads, and sheets. PAM has excellent thermal stability and can dissolve in water at any ratio, producing a transparent, uniform solution. PAM can be categorized into four types based on their molecular structure: nonionic, cationic, anionic, and amphoteric PAMs. Each type has distinct properties and application fields. In this article, we will provide an in-depth guide to PAM, covering its product types, application areas, and usage methods. We will also discuss the precautions and summaries that are essential in PAM product applications.

Polyacrylamide Product Types

Polyacrylamide products can be categorized into the following four types:

Nonionic Polyacrylamide (NPAM)

It is a linear high molecular compound. Nonionic polyacrylamide is mainly used as a sewage treatment agent, suitable for acidic suspensions. Nonionic polyacrylamide utilizes its long molecular chain’s adsorption bridging effect to make suspended particles coagulate and precipitate, achieving the purpose of purifying water. Nonionic polyacrylamide is also used in the textile industry as an auxiliary agent. When combined with some other chemicals, it can be formulated into chemical slurry for textile sizing, improving adhesion, permeability, and desizing performance, giving the fabric antistatic properties, reducing sizing rate, and minimizing twisting spots.

Cationic Polyacrylamide (CPAM)

A linear high-molecular-weight compound, mainly used in wastewater treatment in industries with high organic colloid content, such as dyeing, papermaking, food, construction, metallurgy, mineral processing, coal powder, oilfield, aquatic product processing, and fermentation. It is especially suitable for urban sewage, urban sludge, paper sludge, and other industrial sludge dewatering treatments.

Anionic Polyacrylamide (APAM)

Anionic polyacrylamide is an organic high molecular polymer with polar groups, generally having the following functions: sludge dewatering, clarification and purification, sedimentation promotion, filtration promotion, thickening, and other effects. It is applied in the following fields: sewage coagulation and sedimentation treatment, sludge dewatering and filtration treatment, auxiliary thickening treatment, shield construction and building mud treatment, petroleum industry treatment, river channel silt removal treatment, and mineral processing treatment, among others.

Amphoteric Polyacrylamide (AMPAM)

A PAM product with both cationic and anionic active groups, hydrolyzed and copolymerized. It can react with both anionic and cationic substances. It is widely used in petroleum, chemical, and water treatment fields.

Polyacrylamide Application Fields

PAM has a wide range of applications in various fields, including:

Water Treatment

PAM is widely used in water treatment, including raw water treatment, wastewater treatment, and industrial water treatment. In raw water treatment, it is used in combination with activated carbon to aggregate and clarify suspended particles in domestic water. Organic flocculant PAM can increase the water treatment capacity by more than 20% without modifying the settling tank. In wastewater treatment, PAM can increase the reuse rate of water circulation and can also be used for sludge dewatering. In industrial water treatment, it is used as an essential formula agent.

Petrochemical Industry

PAM is a multifunctional oilfield chemical treatment agent, widely used in petroleum exploration, drilling, cementing, completion, workover, fracturing, acidizing, water injection, water shutoff and profile control, and tertiary oil recovery operations. PAM aqueous solutions have high viscosity, good thickening, flocculation, and rheology regulation properties. In the petroleum industry, it is used as an additive in drilling fluids to reduce friction resistance and improve drilling efficiency. In oil production, PAM can be used as a dispersant, thickener, and flocculant to increase oilfield output.

Biological Materials

PAM hydrogels have characteristics similar to human tissues, and the hydrogel structure has controllability and adjustability. They also have good biocompatibility and inertness, with no toxicity to cells, making them suitable for implantation in the body and use as viscoelastic materials in medical applications. PAM can be used as a fibrinogen granulation agent, raw material for contact lenses, coating material for microcapsules, and as a high-quality hemostatic clip, sanitary napkin, and baby diaper material.

Paper Industry

PAM is widely used in the paper industry as retention aids, filter aids, and uniformity agents to improve paper quality, slurry dewatering performance, and retention of fine fibers and fillers, reducing raw material consumption and environmental pollution. As a dispersant, it can improve the uniformity of paper. PAM’s main applications in the paper industry are twofold: first, increasing the retention of fillers, pigments, etc., to reduce raw material loss and environmental pollution; and second, enhancing paper strength.

Mineral Processing

In the field of mineral processing, mineral processing wastewater treatment generally uses anionic PAM to strengthen the concentration and clarification of the slurry in the mineral processing plant, improving the hydraulic conveying concentration and reuse rate of tailings. PAM is a water purification flocculant and also a mineral processing aid. It can accelerate the solid-liquid separation rate in mineral processing wastewater, improve the recovery and utilization rate of minerals, increase production and revenue, and at the same time, reduce the pollution of mineral processing wastewater on the environment.

Polyacrylamide Usage Methods

  1. Preparation: PAM dry powder or emulsion usually cannot be used directly and needs to be diluted and dissolved in water at a certain ratio. Mix PAM with clean water at a certain ratio, stir evenly and ensure it is fully dissolved. Generally, a 0.1%-0.3% PAM solution is used.

  2. Addition: The site should have a dissolving tank or pool and a stirring device, with stirring speeds between 60-200 rpm. The dissolving tank and stirring device should not be made of iron, as iron ions can cause product degradation. Add the prepared PAM solution slowly and evenly into the water body or material that needs to be treated, while stirring to ensure full contact between the PAM and the material. Stir for 40-60 minutes; the dissolved aqueous solution should be a transparent, colorless, viscous liquid.

  3. Flocculation: After a certain period of stirring, particles and impurities in the material will adsorb onto the PAM, forming flocculent substances that further settle or float, achieving separation.

  4. Separation: Depending on the actual situation, use methods such as sedimentation, filtration, or centrifugation to separate the flocculant from the water body or material, obtaining clean water or purified material. The treated water can be reused, reducing wastewater discharge and conserving resources.

Polyacrylamide Dosage

  1. When used for sludge dewatering, it is recommended to use a 0.2% concentration and a dissolution stirring time of 50 minutes.

  2. Before use, conduct a small-scale test to determine the appropriate ratio. It is recommended to take a 100 ml wastewater sample and inject 0.5 ml of the solution using a syringe each time. Stir continuously and observe the flocculation effect, flocculation speed, supernatant condition, and sedimentation effect to determine the dosage.

  3. When used in paper mills, chemical wastewater, wastewater treatment plants, and coal washing plants, the dry powder dosage is 10-20g per ton of wastewater.

Precautions and Summary


  1. PAM products must be dissolved into a solution before use, allowing the polymer chains to fully extend. Non-ionic and cationic products should be diluted to about 0.1%. The dissolution operation should be carried out in plastic, ceramic, or stainless steel mixing tanks. When preparing the PAM solution, pay attention to the stirring speed to avoid generating bubbles, which can affect the flocculation effect.

  2. The molecular chains of PAM in the solution can be degraded due to shear forces, affecting their performance. Therefore, when dissolving and diluting PAM, try to reduce stirring time and intensity; control the stirring speed between 50-250 rpm, and avoid excessive speed.

  3. When using PAM solution, try to avoid adding it at points with strong mechanical agitation; when transporting PAM solution, use larger pipes, fewer elbows and branch pipes, and opt for mono pumps or diaphragm pumps instead of centrifugal pumps.

  4. Pay special attention to the operation procedure when dissolving dry powder PAM products to prevent particle agglomeration and dissolution failure. For industrial applications, add half of the water to the container first, and the product should be almost fully dissolved after 0.5-1 hour. Appropriate heating can speed up product dissolution, but the temperature should not exceed 60°C.


Through the above introduction, we believe you have gained a deeper understanding of PAM. In practical applications, please be sure to follow the correct usage methods and precautions to ensure that PAM performs at its best. We hope this article provides you with a comprehensive understanding and proper usage of PAM.

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