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Polyalphaolefins - Production of hot-melt and other types of adhesives

Polyalphaolefin (PAO)

Polyalphaolefins (APAO) are well-known for their excellent adhesive properties on non-polar surfaces. And because of their resistance to moisture and extreme temperatures, they are often used as hot-melt adhesive in the packaging industry. APAO are also highly prized in the hygiene and wood-processing sectors. In contrast to other polyolefins, APAO are fully amorphous and do not crystallize. That is why they are also called atactic or amorphous polyalphaolefins (APAO). On-purpose APAO are generally homopolymers or copolymers of ethylene, propylene and other chemical units.

Amorphous polyalphaolefins (APAO) are part of the polyolefin family. Polyolefins are synthetic saturated hydrocarbons that are known for their excellent chemical resistance and electrical insulating properties.

In addition to having low volatility, APAOs are able to withstand both very low and very high temperatures. Objects and materials treated with APAOs become stronger and more durable. APAOs typically have a molar mass of between 10 and 20,000 g/mol.

Moreover, thanks to their excellent adhesive properties, APAOs with propylene as their main monomer are often used as hot-melt adhesives in the industry by manufacturers.

Amorphous polyalphaolefins (APAO) are homo- or copolymers synthesized from various monomers (chemical subunits of polymers). One such monomer is ethylene, a gaseous hydrocarbon produced by cracking crude oil.

Several polymerization steps are required to synthesize APAOs. These steps involve combining molecules to produce isoparaffins. Fractional distillation is used subsequently to obtain molecules of the desired size. These molecules, which are still unsaturated, are then saturated through hydrogenation.

The process produces various base oils with different viscosities. These oils are then combined with synthetic resins or waxes to give them adhesive properties, which can even lower their melt viscosity and raise their barrier effect against water vapor. This is what makes APAOs highly versatile chemicals with strong and long-lasting adhesive properties.



The polyalphaolefins sold by TER Chemicals are used for thermoplastic hot melt adhesives in diapers, in the wood and furniture industry, as well as in the paper and packaging industry. Other applications include asphalt, pavement markings, colored casting materials, drainage channels, and bitumen sealing sheets.

Hot-melt adhesives (otherwise known as hot glue) are applied to surfaces after being heated and form a solid bond only upon cooling. This process is known as hot melt.

The working principle of hot glue is based on adhesion and cohesion. Increasing the temperature of hot glue decreases its viscosity, resulting in adhesion and allowing a surface to be wetted with enough glue. The glue's cohesive strength increases as it cools down. APAOs will only start melting at very high temperatures, between 100 and 170 degrees Celsius. As a result, they are popular base polymers for synthetic hot-melt adhesives.

APAOs are able to adhere to all kinds of materials, including wood, metal, leather and plastic. They work very well even on porous surfaces.

The most common applications in the APAO market:

  • Packaging
  • Clothing
  • Electronics
  • Furniture
  • Diapers
  • Carpets and rugs
  • Craft supplies
  • Book covers

As a specialty chemicals supplier, TER Chemicals work with a global network of manufacturers to provide its customers with high-quality raw materials. Please feel free to talk to us if you are looking for a reliable partner in Europe, North America and in the Asia Pacific Region.

Roads are subject to ever greater stresses due to constantly growing traffic volumes. Therefore, their physical properties must be continuously improved. Amorphous polyalphaolefins (APAO) are often used when roads are paved with bituminous asphalt.

The process involves mixing granular material with bitumen to produce asphalt. APAOs are then added to the asphalt to modify its properties. The addition of polymeric compounds changes the structure of bitumen and significantly enhances its positive properties.

APAO-based road surfaces exhibit consistently high quality. They can withstand greater loads and have higher resistance and durability.


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