Powdered water! What will they think of next?


Farmers in arid countries could soon have a cure for the droughts that blight their crops – in the form of powdered water.
The powder, called Solid Rain, looks like sugar and is made of an absorbent material called potassium polyacrylate, capable of soaking in liquids up to 500 times its size.
The water absorbed by the polymer can be stored for up to a year without evaporating – the only time it is extracted is when it is by the roots of plants when the can be added to soils to produce water for plants. Solid Rain was created by Mexican chemical engineer Sergio Jésus Rico Velasco.
He initially wanted to find an absorbent material that could be used in nappies to absorb lots of liquid in a small space. Velasco later realised that his potassium-based polymer could be used as a way to cure Mexico’s drought problems. Solid Rain is an absorbent polymer called potassium polyacrylate.
This polymer is capable of soaking in water up to 500 times its original size. A whole litre of water can be absorbed in just 10 grams of Solid Rain, which then converts into a thick, translucent gel.
The liquid retained in this gel will stay there for a year without evaporating or seeping out.
It can only be extracted when its added to soil and comes into contact with the roots of plants.
Solid Rain sells for around £17 ($25) per pound. According to magazine Modern Farmer, the Mexican government conducted a one-season sample study on farmers using Solid Rain in the semi-arid state of Hidalgo.
Farm plots showed up to 300 per cent increases in crop yield when Solid Rain was used. Solid Rain recently won the Ecology and Environment award from the Fundacion Miguel Aleman, and it’s been used in Mexico for a decade. However, Velasco didn’t market it heavily and it only went one on sale in the U.S last year.