Researchers invented a novel hydrogel that harnesses air moisture for practical applications, according to a study published on May 29, 2018.
This study was conducted by the researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS). The newly invented hydrogel has interesting properties built-in after water absorption and this is achieved without any external power. This hydrogel is a type of zinc oxide, which is kind of a gel that can absorb water from the surrounding environment more than 2.5 times its weight and performs at least eight times better than commercial drying agents. The production of this hydrogel is easy and cheap, and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications.
Large amounts of water is present in hydrogels and it finds applications in contact lenses, wound dressing, and personal care products. Moreover, it is being used in biomedical applications such as tissue engineering and drug delivery these days. Until now, absorption of water from surrounding air was not possible using hydrogels. Using this new hydrogel, relative humidity in a specific space is reduced from 80 per cent to 60 per cent in very less time.
Once water from the environment is absorbed, infrared transmission is reduced by 50 percent and hydrogel becomes transparent. This translates into a reduction in ambient temperature by more than seven degrees Celsius. Therefore, it has the potential to be used as a smart window material, which can be used to block off the heat from natural sunlight while doubling up as a privacy screen. It can also be used as a conductive ink on printed circuit boards that are commonly found in electronic devices. Using solvents such as vinegar, hydrogel can be erased easily. Therefore, reusing of circuit boards is possible and electronic waste is reduced.