Absorbent Polymer Can Restore Books Damaged By Water
A new starch based polymer, Super Slurper is a nondescript powder until you add water. Then Super Slurper absorbs the liquid, and the powder becomes a gel capable of retaining nearly 2,000 times its weight in moisture.
Librarians and archivists are looking at this new substance for its ability to mop up after floods.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Artifex Equipment, Inc., of Penngrove, California, are collaborating on tests of the polymer’s ability to dry books, papers, photographs and other materials soaked by water from flooding, and leaks.
Kathleen Hayes, coordinator for the Technology Transfer Information Center at ARS’ National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, thought of the idea while attending a March 2002 workshop hosted by the National Archives and Records Administration.
She envisioned using the Super Slurper powder as a way to salvage water damaged materials, rather than air drying them, a laborious and expensive process. The powder is an alternative to vacuum freeze-drying, a recovery process that can take months and cause damage to the precious archival materials.
Artifex president Nicholas Yeager 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 within 48 hours.
J.L. Willett, a chemical engineer at the ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois where Super Slurper was first discovered, is on hand to technically advise Yeager, who may opt to market the polymer commercially.
In August, Yeager signed a cooperative agreement with the National Agricultural Library 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. News You Can Use
Provided by theEnvironmental News Service.