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Monday, September 6, 2010

Dry water

As soon as I heard this term, I knew I had to write about it. No, this isn’t something created by the Acme corporation to help Wile E. Coyote defeat The Roadrunner. Instead, it’s a real substance with real world applications.

Dry water is 95% water by weight. However, each tiny water droplet is coated with a dry powdery substance, most often silica, preventing the droplets from combining. When mixed together correctly, you end up with a very fine dry powder.

Although first discovered in 1968, the uses of dry water are just now coming to light. For example, dry water has proven to be extremely useful for absorbing and storing gases. It can absorb three times as much carbon dioxide as an equivalent amount of ordinary water and silica. Needless to say, this could be a valuable tool in combating climate change.

Researchers also hope to use dry water as a safe way to store and transport methane. Other potential applications include using dry water to store and transport liquids, and to serve as a catalyst for some chemical reactions.

Powdered material called "dry water" could provide a new way to store carbon dioxide in an effort to fight global warming.

Credit: Ben Carter, University of Liverpool.