For anyone who lives in, or has even visited, areas that regularly experience high levels of humidity, the effects can be stifling.
Due to the higher levels of water vapour in the air within humid environments, the body finds it more difficult to self-regulate heat through sweating as the sweat cannot evaporate as easy as in less humid areas. This can mean increased levels of sweating, the risk of dehydration due to the additional water loss, fatigue and even heat stroke, fainting and muscle cramps.
However, a research team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed a solution that could help to deal with the issues humidity can bring, as well as also providing a number of other benefits at the same time. With Singapore experiencing humidity levels of around 70-80%, the team from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, have created a hydrogel that can have a direct impact on their own lives, as well as millions of others around the world.
The hydrogel developed by the team is a form of zinc oxide, which, due to its hydrophilic properties, is able to absorb moisture from the surrounding air, with the ability to absorb 2.5 times its own weight in water. During testing of the hydrogel, it was found that it was able to reduce the humidity of a confined space from 80% down to 60% in less than 10 minutes.
With these kind of results, and the fact that the hydrophilic gel can be used outdoors as well as indoors, the potential impact of its use is wide ranging, but it doesn’t stop there…
The Additional Benefits
While the creation of a hydrogel that has the ability to reduce humidity levels is impressive enough, the gel that the NUS team have created also has a number of other benefits.
Upon absorbing moisture from the air, the gel turns to a milky colour, which means that by applying it to the surface of windows, it can act as a sunscreen to a room and therefore reducing the internal temperature.
As well as this, the gel was also found to be able to generate a similar amount of electrical voltage as an AA battery, meaning it could also be used as a low scale power source.
With the numerous properties that the hydrogel has, the potential benefits of its use could make day to day life much more bearable in humid climates. You can find out more about the gel in the below video from the National University of Singapore.