Persulfates are key components in many industrial processes and commercial products. The polymer industry uses aqueous solutions of persulfates as initiators in the polymerization of latex and synthetic rubber. The electronics industry considers sodium persulfate an efficient microetchant in the manufacture of printed circuit boards. The following examples further illustrate the chemical versatility of persulfates.
Plastics and rubber — Ammonium, potassium, and sodium persulfates are used as initiators for emulsion polymerization reactions in the preparation of acrylics, polyvinyl chlorides, polystyrenes, and neoprene. They are used as polymerization initiators in the manufacture of synthetic rubber (styrene butadiene and isoprene) for automobile and truck tires. Persulfate initiation is used to prepare latex polymers for paints, coatings, and carpet backing.
Structural materials — Persulfates are used as initiators in polymeric concrete formulations.
Inorganic chemicals and minerals — Persulfates are also initiators for the polymeric coating of graphite filaments.
Soil stabilization — Ammonium persulfate is used as a curing agent in chemical grout systems used to stabilize soil near dams, tunnels, and buildings.
Surface preparation — The oxidation power of persulfates is used to clean and microetch a variety of printed circuit board substrates. Persulfates are important oxidants in plating and coating processes. They are also etchants for nickel, titanium, and zinc alloys. Persulfates are used to clean and mill aluminum, brass, copper, and many other metal surfaces prior to plating or adhesive bonding. Persulfates are used to clean and activate carbon and charcoal before and after their use as absorbents.
Cosmetics — The cosmetic industry has developed formulations which use persulfates to boost hair bleaching performance.
Organic synthesis — Persulfates are oxidizing agents in the preparation of aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids, quinones, and a variety of other compounds. The pharmaceutical industry uses sodium persulfate as a reagent in the preparation of antibiotics.
Adhesive — Persulfates are used in the preparation of adhesive films and metal bonding adhesives.
Gas and oil production — In enhanced oil recovery, persulfates are used "down hole" for gel forming and breaking.
Inks, pigments, and dispersants — Persulfates are used to graft substrates to polymers (for example, carbon black to sodium acrylate). Persulfates are used in the preparation of dispersants for ink jetting and toner formulations.
Mining — Persulfates can be used in nickel and cobalt separation processes.
Peroxymonosulfate — PeroxyChem developed a process using ammonium and sodium persulfates to prepare peroxymonosulfate solutions. This patented process allows fast, efficient, on-site production of an alternative to Caro's acid and potassium caroate.
Photography — Persulfates are used in many photographic applications, including bleaching solutions, solution regeneration, equipment cleaning, and wastewater treatment.
Pulp and paper — Persulfates are used in the sizing of paper, preparation of binders and coatings, and production of special papers.
An activated alkali metal persulfate effectively repulps neutral/ alkaline wet-strength broke and decolorizes dyes and optical brightener.
Textiles — Ammonium and sodium persulfates are used in the desizing and bleaching of textiles and the development of dyestuffs.
Environmental — Persulfates are very strong oxidants, have excellent shelf life when stored properly, and are economical to use. These properties make persulfates suitable for a variety of environmental applications, such as soil remediation and wastewater/groundwater cleanup.