(Source: University of Liverpool)
It could help reduce global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide

At the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, scientists announced that a new way to catch and absorb carbon dioxide is through the use of "dry water."

Dry water is a powder that looks a lot like sugar, and could be used a number of ways such as transporting harmful industrial materials safely and "jumpstarting" chemical reactions in the making of certain consumer products. It was discovered in 1968, and was seen only as a potential component for cosmetics. In 2006, it was revisted by scientists at the University of Hull in order to study its structure, and ever since, study leader Professor Andrew Cooper and his team from the University of Liverpool have studied the substance further, expanding its potential. 

Dry water is 95 percent water, even though it is a dry powder. The powder particles contain one water droplet surrounded by modified silica in each, and the silica coating stops the water droplets from combining and turning back into a liquid. 

"There's nothing like it," said Ben Carter, Ph.D., a researcher for Cooper. "Hopefully, we may see dry water making waves in the future."

The dry water powder can absorb and store gases, including carbon dioxide. The gases chemically combine with the water droplets in dry water to create what chemists define as a hydrate. Laboratory research proved that dry water is capable of absorbing over three times as much carbon dioxide as uncombined water and silica. According to Cooper and his team, dry water could help reduce global warming

There are several other potential uses for this new substance, though. Dry water has the ability to store methane, and scientists hope this can "expand its use as a future energy source." Engineers could potentially use dry water to transport deposits of natural gas. Also, dry water could speed up catalyzed reactions between maleic acid and hydrogen gas to create succinic acid, which is a raw material used to make food ingredients, drugs, and various other products. Speeding up these reactions means that manufacturers wouldn't have to stir substances together to create the reactions, which leads to a more energy-efficient and greener way of conducting this process. 

"If you can remove the need to stir your reactions, then potentially you're making considerable energy savings," said Carter. 

In addition, dry water has the ability to store liquids, and scientists hope to apply this to the storage of emulsions, which are mixtures of two or more unblendable liquids. Dry water could store these emulsions and make it safer for manufacturers to transport and store harmful liquids. 

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