Gelation Hydration

H-two-Oh my … I’m thirsty!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

You just ran out of water on a ten mile hike! This could be deadly. But you can’t just MAKE WATER OUT OF THIN AIR…. OR CAN YOU?

Enter Dr. Youhong Guo and her team at UT Austin. They designed a gel-film that can absorb water from the air! It’s made of natural fibers and water-absorbing salts. It’s low-cost, easy to make, and moldable! Mix it, mold it, freeze-dry it, and you’re done! 

The best part? Just one pound of the gel can produce three to six liters of water a day! That’s three large soda bottles! The rate at which the gel produces water depends on the amount of moisture in the air. It works best in humid climates, but will work even in the desert! Mass production of these gels could reduce water shortages worldwide.

Talk about a thirst trap! And wait ‘til you see the silicon flavor packets! Naw.

Reference: Guo, Y., Guan, W., Lei, C., Lu, H., Shi, W., & Yu, G. (2022). Scalable super hygroscopic polymer films for sustainable moisture harvesting in arid environments. Nature Communications, 13(1).