Of the many problems on Earth, here are two: there are too many jellyfish in the seas, and there are too many nappies in our landfills. An Israeli nanotech start-up called Cine’al says it has found the answer to both in Hydromash, a super-absorbent material made from the bodies of jellyfish. But why stop at nappies? Cine’al says jellyfish tampons, paper towels and medical sponges could all be part of our absorbent future.
The recent jellyfish invasion of our seas has been a perplexing but destructive mystery. Their soft, slippery masses drift into desalination plants and the cooling systems of nuclear power plants, shutting down multimillion dollar facilities. En masse, they have also terrorised fish farms, beaches and boats. There isn’t much we as humans can do with jellyfish, other than eat them. They’re a delicacy in Asian countries, but jellyfish are out-reproducing our appetites.
Researchers at Tele Aviv University, however, thought jellyfish could perhaps be the source for highly absorbent and biodegradable material. Their bodies are 90 per cent water, yet they don’t disintegrate or dissolve in the sea. That’s the original idea behind Hydromash, which Cine’al claims is many times more absorbent than paper towels, and which is derived from jellyfish bodies plus nanoparticles for antibacterial properties.
The resulting material breaks down in 30 days, while current nappies which stick around for decades. It’s also not much more expensive than the synthetic super-absorbing polymers in current use, which means there could be a super-absorbent silver lining to the jellyfish invasion, after all. [Times of Israel via Popular Science]
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