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Earth Science Technology

Japanese Researchers Make Plastic Out of Water 117

Posted by timothy
from the what's-kanji-for-boffin? dept.
greenrainbow writes with this excerpt from Inhabit: "The material shown in the picture above is just ice, right? Look again. Elastic water, a new substance invented by researchers at Tokyo University, is a jelly-like substance made up of 95% water along with two grams of clay and a small amount of organic materials. As is, the all-natural substance is perfect for medical procedures, because it's made of water, poses no harm to people, and is perfect for mending tissue. And, if the research team can increase the density of this exciting new substance, it could be used in place of our current oil-based plastics for a host of other things."
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Japanese Researchers Make Plastic Out of Water

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  • Woohoo, plastic water, just what I need! (:

  • Blurry (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Wow, that's one blurry photograph.

  • hmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 30, 2010 @07:25PM (#32051388)
    any one else thinking of ice nine?
  • Whatever... (Score:4, Funny)

    by thestudio_bob (894258) on Friday April 30, 2010 @07:26PM (#32051402)
    Not impressed. I read somewhere where some guy turned water into wine. Not that's impressive.
  • by mindbrane (1548037) on Friday April 30, 2010 @07:26PM (#32051412) Journal
    Take this on desert treks. You can stretch it over a much longer time.
  • Fine... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rmushkatblat (1690080) on Friday April 30, 2010 @07:29PM (#32051440)
    It would be interesting to know exactly what the other "organic materials" are, and how they made it.
    • Yeah. I stopped being impressed the instant I found that it was only 95% water. Lettuce is also 95% water (depending on the variety, you can look them up at a USDA website [usda.gov]).

      That’s the whole idea of an aerosol or gel. It’s mostly one substance because of its properties that you like, but has just enough of another substance (that also has certain properties that you like) to give the overall gel or aerosol those properties.

      • by HiThere (15173)

        That shows your lack of understanding.

        Yes, it's impressive. If it were totally water it wouldn't be impressive, it would be unbelievable.

        There are several questions, of course. Like how much will it cost to make? Is it really as green as it sounds? (Water + clay sounds pretty green.) How much will it be possible to adjust it's properties? What tensile strength can be achieved? What compressive strength? Can it be made edible? Is it a good diet food? Et, multitudinous, cetera.

        Now this isn't up in t

        • There are several questions, of course. Like how much will it cost to make? Is it really as green as it sounds? (Water + clay sounds pretty green.) How much will it be possible to adjust it's properties? What tensile strength can be achieved? What compressive strength? Can it be made edible? Is it a good diet food? Et, multitudinous, cetera.

          Sure... start answering those sort of questions, and I might be impressed. Or might not. But simply announcing that you’ve made a gel from water is unimpressive. TFA was very light on details.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday April 30, 2010 @07:33PM (#32051484) Homepage
    We "invented" this a couple of hundred years ago. We call it "jelly" in civilised lands, or "jello" in the colonies. kthxbye.
    • jelly is what you put on toast

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Only in America. Everywhere else (English speaking), jam is what you put on toast.

        • We (in America) also put jam on toast. Jam has bits of fruit in it and is generally softer than jelly. Jelly is fruit-flavored gelatin. Jell-O is a brand that, like Xerox, has become synonymous with its product.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Randle_Revar (229304)

            Is jello regional like Xerox? Because here in the Northwest most people use "Xerox" only as a proper noun.

            And I don't know about elsewhere, but here people only use "jello" for gelatin if you make it from a powder, and eat it by itself, regardless of brand. If solid gelatin is premade and in a jar and you put it on bread or something, it is always "jelly".

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by aquila.solo (1231830)
              I've almost always heard Xerox (ab)used like Google: As a synonym for the act of photocopying, the machine used in that act, the results of that act ("hand me that Xerox over there"), etc. Only context tells you what's intended. As for regional variations, I couldn't tell you. I've lived in four states (Virginia, New Mexico, Nebraska, Utah) and Xerox and Jell-O both seem to be in pretty wide usage. What really seems to vary is the word used to indicate a sweetened, carbonated beverage. That can change betw
            • by Chaset (552418)

              Always thought "jelly" is fruit with pectin as a solidifying agent. If it has gelatin, then it had various names.

    • We "invented" this a couple of hundred years ago. We call it "jelly" in civilised lands, or "jello" in the colonies. kthxbye.

      Sure, but it's a whole class of materials called gels.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gel [wikipedia.org]

      "Gels are defined as a substantially dilute crosslinked system, which exhibits no flow when in the steady-state."

  • by NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) on Friday April 30, 2010 @07:33PM (#32051486)

    ...a jelly-like substance made up of 95% water along with two grams of clay and a small amount of organic materials.

    It also takes 7 minutes and 8% of your time to set after you mix the ingredients together.

  • Apparently this new substance melts at 45.8 degrees Celsius.
  • Is it like some sort of a water bag/pocket, only if it tears it will not leak, is it sort of like Jelo?

    The story has no details, it's water + clay + some organic stuff.

    Sounds like what god was using to throw together the first human prototype. Are these guys from Tokyo god?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

      The story has no details, it's water + clay + some organic stuff.

      That's the Jell-O you dropped on the ground by accident.

  • Cool, but.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (esidarap.cram)> on Friday April 30, 2010 @07:46PM (#32051612) Homepage Journal
    Cool, but old news [nature.com]. Haven't really heard anything about it since (other than rehashes of that same info from Oct)
  • by grnbrg (140964)

    welcome our new water-based, plastic overlords!

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      welcome our new water-based, plastic overlords!

      This is not the Kool Aid you seek. Nothing to see here. Move along.

  • more (Score:5, Funny)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare@NoSpaM.gmail.com> on Friday April 30, 2010 @07:49PM (#32051652) Homepage Journal

    natural

    breast

    implants

    that is all

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      And suddenly I think we might actually see this stuff getting mass produced.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      If they are implanted, they are by definition not natural. Sorry. ^^

      • That depends on how you define "natural".

        It's perfectly reasonable to call an implant "natural" if the material it's made of is natural (i.e., not man-made). In this case, they'd be compared to silicone implants, which don't fit anyone's definition of "natural".

        On the other hand, this substance itself is man-made, so it can't be "natural" (but not for the reason you state). I would hazard a guess that they feel more natural than the silicone implants.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dhalgren (34798)

          The implants may be natural, but that doesn't mean that the breasts are.

          • Right, but when you say "natural breast implants" (as the original post that Hurricane78 was responding to did), "natural" refers to the implants, not the breasts. Besides that, if you really wanted to get precise, I think most breasts are natural. It's the internals of the breasts that are artificial. The external breasts themselves are still (AFAIK) still skin tissue.
            • When was the last time you used actual speech to talk to someone? ;)

              Is it “natural breasts implants” or “natural breats implants

              It is obvious, that we meant the former, not the latter, since the latter is not something, someone would want, since for us “users”, it would make no difference if the implants were natural. What counts is if the breasts are natural.

              So whooosh. ^^

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by bhartman34 (886109)
                What matters to the end user (which would be males or lesbians, I suppose) is that the breasts in question feel natural. In terms of actually being natural, if they feel natural and look natural, for all intents and purposes, for the end user, they are natural.

                As with all other prosthetics, what matters is the function and the perception, not the strict reality.

                What you were born with naturally isn't part of your character traits. It's an accident of genetics. The only thing to be embarrassed about
  • Good! (Score:1, Troll)

    by bynary (827120)
    ...because if there's one thing the human race doesn't need for survival, it's definitely water.
  • ...for the Vonnegut fans out there...

  • That all of the necessary chemicals to make plastic are already in our polluted water. They have simply found a way to make it congeal.
  • by IHC Navistar (967161) on Friday April 30, 2010 @08:42PM (#32052200)

    Again, the "Wizards" at SlashDot let ANOTHER crappy and purely misleading title make its way into "News":

    ".....95% water along with two grams of clay and a small amount of organic materials."

    -So, in all ACTUALITY, the researchers did *NOT* make plastic out of water, the made it out of water, clay, and other chemicals, but not just water.

    This use of water is no more remarkable than the use of other absorbant polymers or hydrogels, such as Super Slurper, or for an organic material, Gelatin.

    It's about time somebody started seeing such "discoveries" for what they really are: Re-hashed Crap. I'm waiting to see a SlashDot article where somebody discovers The Wheel.

    • Obligatory KOTH quote:

      Dale Gribble: "If you want, I can teach you how to make a bomb out of a toilet paper roll and a stick of dynamite."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jelizondo (183861) *

      Apparently you missed it [newscientist.com]

    • by jonadab (583620)
      Actually, I find the claim of 95% water interesting, because I would have figured that most plastics were substantially more than 5% backbone elements (carbon, silicon, nitrogen, sulfur, and other nonmetals that can sustain more than two covalent bonds per atom, so that you can chain them end-to-end with one another in long molecules and still attach other stuff at the sides). Water contains only oxygen and hydrogen, neither of which, so far as I am aware, is known to form chains more than three atoms long
    • by Zerth (26112)

      I also like how they confused plastic(as in deformation) with plastic(as in chained hydrocarbons)

  • Aerogel anyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted&slashdot,org> on Friday April 30, 2010 @09:39PM (#32052580)

    Aerogel [wikipedia.org]* is also only 2% silica and 98% air. Doesn’t mean it’s made out of air.
    This is a material out of clay, that can bind lots of water. Just like aerogel binds lots of air.

    ___
    * Btw, my favorite of all “normal” materials on this planet. :) (The favorite abnormal is definitely a Bose-Einstein condensate!)

    • Aerogel [wikipedia.org]* is also only 2% silica and 98% air. Doesn’t mean it’s made out of air.
      This is a material out of clay, that can bind lots of water. Just like aerogel binds lots of air.

      ___
      * Btw, my favorite of all “normal” materials on this planet. :) (The favorite abnormal is definitely a Bose-Einstein condensate!)

      And as you might expect, this one is called a hydrogel. The novel part isn't that it has a lot of water in it - much more dilute hydrogels are trivially produced and have been since before I was born. I think the interesting part here, without RTFA, is that this is a ceramic instead of an elastomer.

  • I can't remember if it was Popular Science, Popular Mechanics or Mechanix Illustrated, but at least 25 years ago I read an article about an invention that would be ideal for such a spill.
    It was a large dome that floated mostly underwater, with a cupula sticking out of the top with baffles that directed waves into the center.
    The wave action essentially pumped the oil floating on the surface (and water) into the dome, and since the oil floats, the water was pushed out of the bottom. It was designed to be depl

  • Sounds like an excellent marketing ploy for bottled water companies

  • Water, clay and "organic materials". What if the "organic materials" are dysentery amoeba, Ebola virus, or cyanide? Suddenly 95% water doesn't mean as much.
  • by sodafox (1135849) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:23PM (#32052868)
    Just because it is 95% water does not mean it is necessarily safe for human use. Aside from a little clay, what is the rest of that 5% of 'organic material'? Formaldehyde is an organic material, and I would not want that put into my body in any great quantity.
    • by tchdab1 (164848)

      Exactly. It can't be both an exciting new substance, and safe for human use.

      If it's new, how are you sure it's safe?
      You must mean it doesn't immediately poison you or asphyxiate you or stab you.
      Before I can be sure it's safe (if it's new) I want the bejesus tested out of it.

      Care to start testing it by slapping a wad of it on your arm for a week or two? Breathe deeply.

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      Formaldehyde is an organic material, and I would not want that put into my body in any great quantity.

      - that's because you are not as cool yet as a pharaoh.

  • whaa? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dissy (172727) on Friday April 30, 2010 @10:24PM (#32052872)

    First:

    is a jelly-like substance made up of 95% water along with two grams of clay and a small amount of organic materials.

    Then:

    because it's made of water, poses no harm to people

    That's about as reassuring as saying "This 95% water and 5% deadly deadly poison solution will be completely safe to inject directly into your bloodstream, since it is made completely out of water!"

    • That's about as reassuring as saying "This 95% water and 5% deadly deadly poison solution will be completely safe to inject directly into your bloodstream, since it is made completely out of water!"

      Yeah just like those Stimutacs I got from some guy who never gets out of his chair. He said they're safe because they are made from, like, 99% kelp. He works in a very advanced underwater research center called Sealab so he should know!

  • Fine, they can make plastic out of water, way cool! I'll give em that. But why, oh why can't they upload a decent photo :S
  • by Dunbal (464142) *

    because it's made of water, poses no harm to people

          Yeah. Forget about the clay and OTHER ORGANIC MOLECULES, it's got water so it has to be safe, right? People can be allergic to iron or zinc, let alone complex molecules.

          Sea water is made of "water" too. Try injecting some in your veins.

  • I don't care how crappy the movie was!
  • This will never replace oil based plastics. All you need to do is look at how hemp isn't replacing wood products, paper, clothing, etc. There are too few people with too much money running the oil industry. If they don't want your little water-plastics taking over the market, then it won't be. Simple as that.
  • "because it's made of water, poses no harm to people"" tell that to any one who has been hit by a large wave.. or a hurricane or a typhoon or been hit by another human being.
  • Could anyone find the link to the Nature article or any other scientific literature on this material? I couldn't find it in the current issue of Nature.
  • how strong is it, and by what measure? I see it flexes in that person's hand so it's certainly not rigid. tensile strength? sheer strength? There's no way to tell what may or may not be done with the substance without more information.
  • The most important thing about any replacement for our current plastics, I would think, would be that it be biodegradable, no?

    TFA doesn't seem to say one way or another though.

  • As is, the all-natural substance is perfect for medical procedures, because it's made of water, poses no harm to people, and is perfect for mending tissue.

    Seriously?

    • Basically everything biological is mostly water, but not everything biological is harmless
    • "All-natural", well obviously it's safe then. It's not like there's any substance in nature the least bit dangerous.
    • Icicles are essentially 100% water, yet they kill people all the time. Realistically, any solid could cause an embolism which can easily cause a PE, MI, or stroke (all very bad things).
    • It takes a single immunogenic or thrombogenic ingredient or combination of ingredients to make this subs

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