Can scientists make water in powder form?

Location: science.ORF.at / Report: "Dry water for all walks of life"

This is the result of a study recently presented by Andrew Cooper and his team from the University of Liverpool at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston.

Powder for low electricity bills

The powder can, for example, be used as a catalyst in the production of succinic acid from the reaction of hydrogen and maleic acid. Succinic acid is widely used in the manufacture of food, medicines, and cosmetics.

Usually the ingredients need to be stirred to make this acid. However, this is not necessary if dry water is added instead.

"If scientists no longer have to stir with such reactions in the future, that would mean enormous energy savings," explains Ben Carter, a researcher from Cooper's team in a press release. The powder was only recently rediscovered.

Renaissance of an old product

So-called dry water has been around since 1968. It was invented by researchers at Degussa, which is now part of the Evonik Group. Dry water looks like fine sand or icing sugar and is used in the cosmetics industry, for example.

It consists of 95 percent water, the remaining five percent is quartz. Each particle of the powder consists of a tiny drop of water surrounded by a layer of quartz. This prevents the water molecules from coming into contact with each other again and the water from becoming liquid.

In 2006 the material was rediscovered by a group of researchers led by Bernie Binks who studied the structure of dry water. Since then, Cooper has also begun to be interested in the substance and to find new uses for it.

The powder as a binder

Dry water might also work well for fluid storage, especially emulsions. Emulsions are liquids made up of two or more components that do not dissolve in one another, for example a mixture of oil and water in mayonnaise.

In addition, dry water can very easily bind gases. This could, for example, bind greenhouse gases such as CO2.

In previous studies, the scientists have also found that dry water could more easily break down methane deposits on the ocean floor so that it can be used as fuel. However, methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas.

Peter Stenitzer, science.ORF.at

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