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National U of Singapore researchers develop gel that absorbs humidity

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: June 6th, 2018

Researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) are developing a water-absorbing gel with a range of functions, from preventing moldy walls to acting as an emergency battery.

The technology can absorb more than 2.5 times its weight in water and performs at least eight times better than current drying products such as silica gel. It is ideal for use in tropical countries like Singapore, where the air feels hotter than the actual temperature due to high humidity.

“Moisture in the air is an abundant resource, but there are few attempts to harvest and put it to good use,” says Tan Swee Ching. head of the NUS research team behind the new technology. “Our hydrogel reduces relative humidity of a confined space from 80% to 60% — within the thermal comfort zone — in less than seven minutes and achieves a cooling effect.”

The technology does not need electricity and can be employed both indoors and outdoors. It can be used, for example, as a smart window material to block heat and lower ambient temperatures in an enclosed space. Because the hydrogel turns from transparent to opaque after absorbing water, the technology doubles as a privacy screen.

The gel is also suitable as conductive ink on circuit boards or as an emergency power source. According to Tan, “if a person is stranded in the jungle where sunlight gets blocked and there is no electricity, he or she can potentially let the hydrogel absorb some water from surrounding air to generate power to make an emergency call.”

The researchers have received funding from the Temasek Foundation Ecosperity, with support from the NUS Industry Liaison Office.

Source: NUS News

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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