Imagine a diaper made from jellyfish. How about paper towels or even tampons? That is what Israeli nanotechnology start up Cine’al Ltd is developing.
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When you think of a jellyfish you usually think of a dangerous, gross and slimy sea creature whose sting is very painful. Jellyfish, also know as medusa, can be dangerous and as a result beaches in Israel are closed whenever they are around.
Warmer waters due to global warming have led to an increase in jellyfish activity in Israel. Worldwide fishing has also cut down on the jellyfish’s predators and competition for food, which has allowed them to greatly increase in population.
Now Israeli company Cine’al has a practical use for the stinging vermin. The fleshy part of the jellyfish is super absorbent. Cine’al has discovered that it can be twice as absorbent as the material currently used in most diapers.
Cine’al has developed a new dry and flexible material called hydromesh from the flesh of jellyfish. The flesh of the jellyfish is broken down and antibacterials are added to it to make hydromesh. Dr. Shachar Richter of Tel Aviv University did the scientific work that led to hydromesh’s development.
Cne’al claims that hydromesh is much more absorbent than the material currently used in paper towels and disposable diapers. Synthetic polymers are currently used to make products that are highly absorbent. Dr. Richter’s research found that jellyfish are composed of 90% water. Because jellyfish live in the ocean they have the ability to absorb liquids without dissolving. Their flesh is natural and so it is biodegradable.
Jellyfish diapers are also more eco friendly. Unlike most diapers made from synthetic materials that can take hundreds, or even thousands of years to decay, jellyfish diapers biodegrade in less than thirty days.
It is estimated that in its first year alone the average baby uses up to 70 kilograms worth of diapers.
The other environmental benefit will be the reduction in the jellyfish population. Until now no one has fished jellyfish as they have had no practical use.
Cine’al’s president, Ofer Du-Nour, see the company as killing two birds with one stone. As he told the Times of Israel, “There are too many jellyfish in the sea, and too many Pampers in landfills. Cine’al may have the ultimate answer to both those issues.”
Du-Nour is not concerned whether or not people will want to use something made of jellyfish on their babies or whether women would be concerned about using it in their bodies as tampons. He feels that most people today have no idea what ingredients are used in these products anyway.
Ofer Du-Nour thinks that countries such as Israel might actually mandate the use of jellyfish in this way. Many countries tourist industries are harmed by jellyfish infestations and harvesting them would be a profitable way to solve the problem.
Ofer Du-Nour is also head of the Israeli investment firm Capital Nano. Capital Nano, which was founded by Israeli entrepreneur Nir Davidson, invests in firms that use new nanotechnologies being developed in Israeli universities.
As Du-Nour told the Times of Israel, “The technologies we chose are proven technologies. The only issue is the engineering to bring the products to market.”