We all know that cotton absorbs water, but in its actual state its can hold just 18 percent of its own weight in water. Considering that fact that pure water doesn’t come easy, at least not in arid regions such as deserts, researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology and Hong Kong Polytechnic University have joined forces to develop a new polymer that can better the water harvesting credentials of cotton by allowing it to harvest moisture from misty air and use it for everything from drinking to farming.
The new polymer, which the researchers say increases the cost of cotton by 12 percent, allows cotton to harvest a whopping 340 percent of its own weight in water and automatically release the harvested “totally pure water” when its temperature reaches 34 degrees Celsius. The invention, inspired from beetles and spiders living in such arid conditions, could provide water in deserts or mountain regions where air is misty at night. The researchers aren’t really happy with the 340 percent figure and also want to reduce the temperature required for the polymer to change its state from water collecting one to water releasing one.