Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Now, Diaper Technology Takes On a Desert

Plans for the Jumeira Islands development, a luxury residential project being built here, include acres of lush landscaping. But how can such greenery bloom in the sandy soil of this arid desert climate? To address that problem, developers are turning to an unlikely solution: the technology used in disposable diapers.
Disposable diapers are made of superabsorbent polymers, or hydrogels, that retain moisture. In the early 1980's, chemical manufacturers discovered that the same technology, with modifications, could be applied to products designed to improve soil irrigation. At that time, the discovery was hailed as a possible aid to poor farmers in the developing world who were seeking to grow crops in dry climates. But it never caught on; the products were too expensive, and their effectiveness was not proved.
But manufacturers are now finding their market growing, as worldwide demand increases for ways to stretch scarce water supplies.

Just interesting to notice, this sounds an awful lot like the "dew collectors" used in Frank Herbert's Dune, written and published back in the 1970s.

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