Dry water, an unusual form of "powdered liquid", is a water–air emulsion in which tiny water droplets, each the size of a grain of sand, are surrounded by a sandy silica coating. Dry water actually consists of 95% liquid water, but the silica coating prevents the water droplets from combining and turning back into a bulk liquid. The result is a white powder that looks very similar to table salt. It is also more commonly known among researchers as empty water.
Dry water was first patented in 1968 and was immediately snatched up by cosmetic companies as it appeared to have potential applications in the cosmetics field. It was rediscovered in 2006 by the University of Hull, UK, and has since been evaluated and studied for its potential use in other fields. The dry water itself is easy enough to manufacture. The hydrophobic silica nanoparticles and water are blended together using a motor with a stirring rod and impeller that spins at 19,000 rpm for 90 seconds, which coats the water droplets completely.
Certain gases, when mixed with dry water, combine with the water, which then traps them in a solid clathrate hydrate cage. This presents the possibility that explosive gases could be easily transported with a reduced risk of accidental detonation. Dry water is currently being considered for use as a carbon sequestration agent to capture and seal away greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Scientists consider that dry water will prove useful in the future to help fight global warming as it was found that it could store as much as three times more carbon dioxide than ordinary water over a similar length of time. Dry water also has applications for the transportation and storage of dangerous materials. It can be used as a medium for volatile compounds, as materials stored within the dry water can be reduced to powder and stabilized – reducing not only the volatility of the substance, but also its weight for transport. It has also been theorized that dry water could have potential uses in the construction of fuel cells for automobiles due to its ability to store and stabilize very large amounts of volatile gases and materials without permanently binding them. Due to its nature, dry water is classified as an adsorbent material. It has many potential uses in fields where emulsions are required or used. Recent studies have also found dry water to help jumpstart reactions or to work as a catalyst.
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