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Could powdered water end famine around the world?


Kevan Karanjia
Staff Writer

Saturday, July 13, 2013, 4:18 - As drought becomes a more common occurrence around the world, farmers will find it increasingly difficult to make ends meet, but a new powder that can store water in soil might ease those fears.

Droughts such as the one currently seen across the southwestern United States have hurt farmers badly.

Droughts such as the one currently seen across the southwestern United States have hurt farmers badly.

A lack of rain may never be a problem for farmers again after a newly developed powder could store water for up to a year. 

Known as Solid Rain, the powder is capable of soaking in liquids up to 500 times its size.

The sugar-like substance is made from a porous material called Potassium Polyacrylate, which can store water for up to a year without evaporating.

Solid Rain stores liquids and only releases it when in contact with the roots of plants.

When water is poured onto the powder, it turns into a thick gel.

Developers claim 10 grams of the substance can store 1 litre of water.  

Solid Rain is a powder that can absorb up to 500 times its size - it looks like sugar, seen above.

Solid Rain is a powder that can absorb up to 500 times its size - it looks like sugar, seen above.

Solid Rain was developed by a Mexican Chemical Engineer, who was trying to produce a new absorbent material for diapers. 

Sergio Jésus Rico Velasco was shocked to find that instead of a solution to heavy diapers, he had a new way of helping poor farmers. 

The Mexican government ran trials for one season with the material and the results were very promising. 

Farm plots that used the powder showed up to a 300 per cent increase in crop yields. 

The results also showed big jumps in bean and white oat yields when Solid Rain was used. 

Farmers that used the powder recorded 3000 kg of beans per hectare compared to 450 kg without it. 

White oat yields doubled, with 2500 kg per hectare in fields without Solid Rain versus 5000 kg per hectare in fields with it. 

The product recently won the Ecology and Environment award from the Fundacion Miguel Aleman. The initiative was founded in honour of the former Mexican President and supports projects in sciences, arts, and education around the country.

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