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Jellyfish are a pest. They sting swimmers and damage the tourism industry, destroy fisheries and clog up the pips of nuclear power plants. Many coastal areas around the world are struggling to keep them under control, as their population grows due to a rise in the oceans temperature and acidity level.
So, how do you solve this problem and what can you do with a bunch of jellyfish? You turn them into nappies and paper towels of course! After all, there’s not much else you could do with a jellyfish aside from eat them. Although, it seems that they are out-producing our appetite because they’re only eaten by people in Asian countries.
An Israeli nanotech start-up called Cine’al are using the bodies of dead jellyfish to make Hydromash, which is a super-absorbent material. Sounds ridiculous right? Please allow me to explain. The company claims that the structure of the material is not only highly-absorbent but it is also “dry, flexible and strong” and that makes them the perfect material for paper towels and nappies. One day, they could even be integrated into our daily lives in the form of tampons and medical sponges.
The biological structure of the jellyfish states that it contains no brain and consists of around 90% water. Hydromash, which is a material derived from the structure of a jellyfish, can hold several times its own weight in water without disintegrating or dissolving. This makes it more absorbent when compared to the polymers used in nappies and unlike polymers, Hydromash are fully biodegradable and will break down within a month.
Hydromash is a product based on the research at Tel Aviv University who were trying to find a biodegradable material that is as absorbent as synthetic materials. Nanoparticles have been added to the material to make it more flexible and resistant to bacterial infestation.
Hydromash is safe to use and could create a positive impact on the environment. A single baby could go through 70kg of nappies within a year and the amount of waste could be reduced if they were biodegradable. Hydromash isn’t too much more expensive than the synthetic polymer we currently use, which means the persistently growing number of jellyfish isn’t all bad news.