From jellyfish to paper

Global warming is especially nice if you happen to be a jellyfish. Recently, rising sea temperatures have led to vast spawns of jellyfish around the world, particularly in coastal areas. Unfortunately, this is where people like to swim, and also where pipes discharge into the sea. People getting stung and power centre outlets getting blocked are a nuisance. Now an Israeli company has decided to sort the problem out.

Cine’al Ltd is a nano-tech start-up that has just developed a technology allowing it to turn the flesh of jellyfish into cellulose. This means it is useful as paper, but also that it can be used to make super-absorbers. The development came after a study that found that jellyfish flesh is of 90% water by volume. A jellyfish body can absorb more liquid still, without damage to the organism.

Super-absorbing polymers (SAPs) are used in sanitary towels, tampons, medical equipment and so on. This new class of jellyfish-based SAPs could also, state the company, be used in paper towels, or really any application that calls for a huge absorbent capacity.

The material is called Hydromash. While its details are secret, the  material is a natural based polymer that is made directly from jellyfish. Researchers at Israel’s Tel Aviv University use nano-materials to convert jellyfish bodies into Hydromash.

Important advantages of the material are its capacity to absorb huge volumes of water (as well as blood and similar natural, organic fluids) in a very short time. Nano-particles are also added to the material during production, which allows for anti-bacterial qualities, different colours and various scents.

In addition, Hydromash is reported to completely bio-degrade within 30 days. It is therefore a contender to replace nappies and other synthetic waste that currently fills landfills around the world every day.

Jellyfish are generally considered useless – they have few natural predators as their flesh is almost inedible. However, they do have some redeeming factors; some even present a type of immortality. Now, we can consider them to be a useful organic ally for our sustainable future.

Images via creative commons licence.