By: Amanda Froelich,
Whether in the parched deserts of sub-Saharan Africa or in the blistering heat of one of California’s deserts, the thirst for water is titanic. Climates with hot, arid weather can often fall victim to drought, and in effect, suffer a loss of crops and eventual famine.
However, an invention originating from Mexico may be the long-sought cure for this type of tragedy; it allows farmers to store water for times when it’s essential and has the potential to change the world in locations where water is scarce.
The powder, called Solid Rain, is similar in appearance to sugar and is made out of the absorbent material potassium polyacrylate. Incredibly, this material is capable of soaking up liquids up to 500 times its size.
For use in dry climates, water can be added to the polymer, and once absorbed, is able to be retained for up to a year without evaporating. When needed, it can then be added to soils to produce water for plants. This duo will easily be broken down by the soil and plant roots.
Solid Rain was invented by Mexican chemical engineer, Sergio Jesus Rico Velasco. Originally, he was seeking a material that could be used in nappies to absorb a large amount of water in a small space. But later he realized that his potassium-based polymer could be used as a way to cure Mexico’s drought problems.
In its scientific name, Solid Rain is known as potassium polyacrylate. The video in this article displays it’s amazing properties in a functional setting, and also hints at the endless ways it may be utilized in the future.
As seen in the photo above, the appearance and texture of Solid Rain drastically changes when it absorbs water. In its natural state, it is similar to sugar; but when it water is added to it, the polymer becomes a translucent gel that will not seep any liquid for up to a year unless it comes in contact with soil and/or plant roots.
Featured in Mexican Farmer, the Mexican government conducted a one-season sample study on farmers using Solid Rain in the semi-arid state of Hidalgo. When the Solid Rain was used, farm plots showed up to a 300 percent increase in crop yield.
Because the new way to store water is so life-changing for those who depend on the resource, it won the Ecology and Environmental award from the Fundacion Miguel Aleman.
It may have been used in Mexico for over a decade, but only recently did it make its way to the States. Velasco did not market Solid Rain heavily in the beginning, but now it’s widely available. Currently it is being sold for $25 (17 Euros) per pound.
Solid Rain may potentially change many lives. With water, this product can be utilized whenever needed and farms need no longer depend on the unknown cycles and rapid temperaments of Mother Earth. With that insurance, growers around the world can continue to produce food for the future.
Watch the video: