(32b) Flexible Towel-like Polymer That Can Rapidly Mop up Blood | AIChE

(32b) Flexible Towel-like Polymer That Can Rapidly Mop up Blood


Choudhary, H. - Presenter, University of Maryland, College Park
Dowling, M. B., University of Maryland
Raghavan, S. R., University of Maryland
Superabsorbent polymer gels that can absorb a significant amount of water are widely used in materials such as diapers and for keeping soil moist. These gels are typically in the form of microscale beads. The same gels can also be made as macroscopic solids (e.g., a sheet or cube), but these solids take a long time (~ 24 h) to swell in water. For a large, solid gel to swell rapidly, it is necessary to make it porous, but porous gels tend to be fragile.

Here, we present a simple and low-cost approach to create solid gels that are both porous and highly robust. Our approach involves the polymerization of a foamed monomer solution, with the bubbles of the foam being stabilized by novel polymers. The final dried material is typically in the form of a sheet (thickness ~ 1 mm, length and width from 1 to 100 cm). The sheet is flexible and robust; it can be rolled up like a paper towel and cut into patches of desired size. When added to water, the gel-sheet absorbs 150 times its weight in water within 30 s, and the swollen sheet can be lifted up by hand.

We expect this type of superabsorbent material to have applications in many applications, one of which is in stopping bleeding from severe wounds. In that regard, our gel-sheet is able to rapidly absorb whole blood – up to 60 times its weight within a minute. Moreover, due to the presence of the polymer stabilizers, the blood tends to remain immobilized in the swollen gel. Data from experiments with bleeding models in animals will be presented.