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Subject: Sorbent


From: Nicholas Yeager <artifex>
Date: Monday, September 22, 2003
From ARS News Service <NewsService [at] ars__usda__gov>

    Absorbent Polymer Has "Thirst for Knowledge"
    ARS News Service
    Agricultural Research Service, USDA
    Jan Suszkiw, 301-504-1630, jsuszkiw [at] ars__usda__gov
    September 22, 2003

    Cupped in the palm of one's hand, Super Slurper is a nondescript
    powder--until you add water. Then, starch-based polymers in
    Super Slurper "drink" the water right up, transforming the
    powder into a gel capable of retaining nearly 2,000 times its
    weight in moisture.

    Now, this same thirsty disposition could make Super Slurper
    worth its weight in gold to librarians and archivists. The
    Agricultural Research Service and Artifex Equipment, Inc., of
    Penngrove, Calif., are collaborating on tests of the polymer's
    ability to dry books, papers, photographs and other materials
    soaked by water from flooding, leaks and other disasters.

    Kathleen Hayes, coordinator for the Technology Transfer
    Information Center at ARS' National Agricultural Library (NAL),
    Beltsville, MD, thought of the idea while attending a March 2002
    workshop hosted by the National Archives and Records
    Administration. She envisioned using Super Slurper as a fast,
    new way to salvage water-damaged materials, rather than air
    drying them--which is laborious and expensive--and as an
    alternative to vacuum freeze-drying, a recovery process that can
    take months and cause collateral damage.

    Artifex president Nicholas Yeager was intrigued, and conducted
    preliminary tests in which Super Slurper dried several wet books
    in about 10 minutes. Air drying methods, by comparison, take
    weeks--and mold growth can begin in just 48 hours.

    In August, Yeager signed a cooperative agreement with the NAL to
    continue testing. Besides checking for mold inhibition, his
    tests aim to gauge Super Slurper's ability to minimize other
    types of water damage, including wrinkled pages and swollen book
    bindings that take up 20 percent more shelf space.

    Super Slurper, for its part, must not produce any stains of its
    own nor mar an item's inks and pigments. J.L. Willett, a
    chemical engineer at the ARS National Center for Agricultural
    Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill.--Super Slurper's
    "birthplace"--is on hand to technically advise Yeager, who may
    opt to market the polymer commercially.

    ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific
    research agency.

                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:31
                Distributed: Monday, September 29, 2003
                       Message Id: cdl-17-31-009
Received on Monday, 22 September, 2003

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