‘Dry water’ may be a useful tool in the global warming fight

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From Green Right Now Reports

The possible next big thing in the battle against climate change sounds like something straight out of science fiction. “Dry water” may be an effective new way to absorb and store carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

That was the finding of a group of scientists at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, who added that the substance might also be a greener way to produce hundreds of consumer products and even store and transport potentially harmful industrial materials.

“There’s nothing else quite like it,” said Ben Carter, Ph.D., researcher for study leader Professor Andrew Cooper. “Hopefully, we may see ‘dry water’ making waves in the future.”

The substance in question became known as “dry water” because it consists of 95 percent water and yet appears as a dry powder. Each particle contains a water droplet surrounded by modified silica, the stuff that makes up ordinary beach sand. The silica coating prevents the water droplets from combining and turning back into liquid. The resulting powder can absorb gases, which chemically combine with the water molecules to form what chemists term a hydrate.

Dry water was discovered in 1968 and first received attention for its potential use in cosmetics. Now, the substance seems to have real possibilities as a storage material for gases, including carbon dioxide. In laboratory-scale research, Cooper and co-workers found that dry water absorbed over three times as much carbon dioxide as ordinary, uncombined water and silica.

In previous studies, Cooper and colleagues demonstrated that dry water is also useful for storing methane, a component of natural gas, and may help expand its use as a future energy source. In particular, they hope that engineers can use the powder to collect and transport stranded deposits of natural gas. The powder could also provide a safer, more convenient way to store methane fuel for use in vehicles powered by natural gas.

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