Ariel Schwartz

Japanese Researchers Invent Elastic Water

by , 04/30/10
filed under: Green Materials

elastic water, plastic, clean plastic, green plastic, tokyo university, japan, green design

The material shown in the picture above is just ice, right? Look again. Elastic water, a new substance invented by researchers at Tokyo University, is a jelly-like substance made up of 95% water along with two grams of clay and a small amount of organic materials. As is, the all-natural substance is perfect for medical procedures, because it’s made of water, poses no harm to people and is perfect for mending tissue. And, if the research team can increase the density of this exciting new substance, it could be used in place of our current oil based plastics for a host of other things.

According to the researchers, the substance can be used to stick tissues together (human tissues, not Kleenex) and to produce clean plastic materials. It also has a high mechanical strength and self mends when damaged.

Imagine if everything now made out of plastic from oil was instead made out of plastic from water. Though water shortage issues could become a problem if we went hog wild, we could surely reduce a lot of toxins in our environment. Bravo to the “elastic water” team – though it may be just a gel right now it could be a superb and wide reaching solution in the future.

+ Japan Science and Technology Agency

Via Akihabara News

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14 Comments

  1. ap June 20, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    If it is like other “plastic” materials, isn’t that the point, replacing the need for petroleum based products?

  2. john_doe77 May 2, 2010 at 6:35 am

    “…made up of 95% water along with two grams of clay…”
    Independent of the size? What does the remaining 48 grams consist of if you make 1 kilogram with that recipe?
    I’m just tired of people mixing absolute units with relative units :)

  3. vulcantourist May 2, 2010 at 2:44 am

    @falala: Your initial statement simply isn’t true. I dare you to leave some rotting organic matter in plastic food storage containers for 6 months to a year and bet me $1000 that it won’t “eat” the plastic. You’ll find some pitting in the plastic where fungi or something has eaten away at the plastic, and you’ll be out a thousand bucks. I’ll send you a thank-you note for my new iPad.

  4. VulcanTourist May 2, 2010 at 2:38 am

    The material I already mentioned, used in medical dressings and potting soil and other applications, actually already does dry to something plastic. In the case of the Spenco gel pads, when one dries out it leaves a thin plastic sheet and mesh behind; the stuff was originally marketed years ago for burns (and I used it on bicycle road rash) but later downgraded to blister treatment, apparently due to packaging limitations and lack of sterility that would be required by the FDA(?) for burn treatment products.

    Seriously, just Google “Spenco gel” or “potting soil crystals”; where have you guys been that you’ve never seen this stuff? What these people have developed is just incremental or lateral innovation, not some big new discovery, so yeah, this news is mostly hype to help them find a corporate sugardaddy to license their pending questionable patent.

  5. metalsmith May 1, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    so…

    It’s jello?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gelatin

    Sounds like jello without the collagen.

    or is collagen the natural substance?

    Anyhow, I want to try some cherry flavored, err… Elastic water.

    This is cool that they’ve made it into a substance that has similar properties to vaseline, but I don’t think it’s quite as new as they would lead you to believe. I think the big part here is that it maintains it’s viscosity unless intentionally dried. if it dries into a hard substance like plastic, that would also be cool.

  6. falala May 1, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Part of what makes plastic useful (as a product) is that nothing eats it. If you had water-based plastic goods, I\’d imagine they\’d have a short lifespan (which is good in a planet sense, but somewhat bad if you have something like a heart valve made from plastic).
    Overal for easily disposed items (cups, spoons, fast food containers) I could see this as very good though.

  7. manny May 1, 2010 at 7:07 am

    Wow….it seems incredible…let’s hope it becomes practical as well

  8. sheltongenie April 30, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    I wonder what the organic materials are?

  9. Bandito April 30, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Wonder if this could be a replacement for the material inside breast implants?

  10. VulcanTourist April 30, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    This is small refinement of something we already have rather than a breakthrough. I have sheets of Spenco gel in my medicine cabinet which are 95% water, the other 5% being some polymer. It’s the same stuff they add to potting soil to increase water retention.

  11. themadafrican April 30, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    so if you ingest it, you’re eating clay?

  12. alexjameslowe April 30, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    wow! what a great development- kind of reminds me of that movie ‘The Abyss’

  13. Bao-Khang Luu April 30, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    It looks like agar. You can eat agar. YUMMY! And some people do practice geophagy. It would be cool if you can eat your plastic water bottle after you drank all the water in it. The bigger question is how many calories does it have? :D

  14. Calvin K April 30, 2010 at 11:58 am

    I wonder if you could eat it.

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