Sodium triphosphate (STP), also sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP), or tripolyphosphate (TPP), is an inorganic compound with formula Na5P3O10. It is the sodium salt of the polyphosphate penta-anion, which is the conjugate base of triphosphoric acid. It is produced on a large scale as a component of many domestic and industrial products, especially detergents. Environmental problems associated with eutrophication are attributed to its widespread use.
Preparation and properties
Sodium tripolyphosphate is produced by heating a stoichiometric mixture of disodium phosphate, Na2HPO4, and monosodium phosphate, NaH2PO4, under carefully controlled conditions.
- 2 Na2HPO4 + NaH2PO4 → Na5P3O10 + 2 H2O
In this way, approximately 2 million tons are produced annually.
STPP is a colourless salt, which exists both in anhydrous form and as the hexahydrate. The anion can be described as the pentanionic chain [O3POP(O)2OPO3]5−. Many related di-, tri-, and polyphosphates are known including the cyclic triphosphate P3O93−. It binds strongly to metal cations as both a bidentate and tridentate chelating agent.