Nitrocellulose vs. PVDF

What's the Difference?

Nitrocellulose and PVDF are both types of polymer materials commonly used in various applications. Nitrocellulose, also known as cellulose nitrate, is a highly flammable compound that is often used in the production of explosives, lacquers, and celluloid films. It is known for its fast-drying properties and excellent adhesion to various surfaces. On the other hand, PVDF, or polyvinylidene fluoride, is a thermoplastic fluoropolymer that is highly resistant to chemicals, UV radiation, and extreme temperatures. It is commonly used in industries such as electrical, chemical, and medical due to its excellent mechanical strength and chemical resistance. While both materials have their unique properties and applications, PVDF is generally considered to be more versatile and durable compared to nitrocellulose.


Chemical FormulaC6H8(NO2)2O5(C2H2F2)n
SolubilityInsoluble in waterInsoluble in water
AppearanceYellowish solidWhite solid
FlammabilityHighly flammableNon-flammable
ApplicationsExplosives, lacquers, filmsMembranes, coatings, filters
Melting Point160-190°C165-175°C
Tensile StrengthLowHigh
Chemical ResistanceResistant to acids and basesResistant to most chemicals

Further Detail


Nitrocellulose and Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) are two commonly used materials in various industries due to their unique properties and applications. In this article, we will explore and compare the attributes of nitrocellulose and PVDF, shedding light on their chemical composition, physical properties, applications, and advantages.

Chemical Composition

Nitrocellulose, also known as cellulose nitrate, is a highly flammable compound produced by treating cellulose with nitric acid and sulfuric acid. It is composed of cellulose molecules with nitrate ester groups attached to the hydroxyl groups of the cellulose chain. On the other hand, PVDF is a thermoplastic fluoropolymer composed of repeating units of vinylidene fluoride. It is a semi-crystalline polymer with a high degree of fluorination, resulting in excellent chemical resistance.

Physical Properties

Nitrocellulose is a solid material that is soluble in a wide range of organic solvents, such as acetone and ethanol. It is highly flammable and can burn rapidly when exposed to an ignition source. Nitrocellulose films are transparent and possess good tensile strength. In contrast, PVDF is a semi-crystalline material with a high melting point. It is insoluble in most common solvents, making it highly resistant to chemical attack. PVDF films are opaque and exhibit excellent mechanical properties, including high tensile strength and toughness.


Nitrocellulose finds extensive use in the production of lacquers, paints, and inks due to its fast-drying properties and ability to form a smooth, glossy finish. It is also used in the manufacturing of explosives, photographic films, and as a binder in solid rocket propellants. Additionally, nitrocellulose is employed in the medical field for wound dressings and as a component in drug delivery systems. PVDF, on the other hand, is widely utilized in the chemical industry for piping systems, valves, and fittings due to its excellent chemical resistance. It is also used in the electrical industry for insulation, wiring, and cable applications, thanks to its high dielectric strength. PVDF is further employed in the production of membranes for filtration and separation processes.


One of the key advantages of nitrocellulose is its fast-drying nature, making it ideal for applications where quick drying times are crucial. It also offers good adhesion to various substrates, allowing it to be used as a versatile coating material. Nitrocellulose-based products can be easily modified by adding plasticizers or other additives to enhance their flexibility or improve specific properties. On the other hand, PVDF boasts exceptional chemical resistance, even in harsh environments. It is highly stable and can withstand exposure to a wide range of chemicals, acids, and bases. PVDF also exhibits excellent UV resistance, making it suitable for outdoor applications where prolonged exposure to sunlight is expected.


In conclusion, nitrocellulose and PVDF are two distinct materials with unique attributes and applications. Nitrocellulose offers fast-drying properties and good adhesion, making it suitable for coatings, inks, and explosives. PVDF, on the other hand, excels in chemical resistance and is widely used in the chemical and electrical industries. Both materials have their advantages and find their place in various sectors, contributing to the advancement of technology and innovation.

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