The Anonymous Widower

Hydrophilic Polymers: The Key To A Green Future

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Tech Xplore.

This is the first paragraph.

Researchers from the University of Surrey and the University of Bristol are working on innovative devices to tame and store carbon-free renewable energy from unpredictable sources such as wind and solar.

That got me interested and I read the whole article.

This abstract on SpringerLink gives a definition of hydrophilic polymers.

Hydrophilic polymers are those polymers which dissolve in, or are swollen by, water. Many compounds of major technical and economic importance fall within this definition, including many polymers of natural origin. Many foodstuffs—containing substantial amounts of carbohydrate and protein— can be classified as hydrophilic polymers, and some have important technical and industrial uses, apart from their nutritional value. For example, although over 95% of the starches produced from corn (maize), wheat, potato, tapioca, and other vegetable sources are used as foods (human or animal), the remaining quantity represents an important part of the technical polymer market. In fact, more than two-thirds of hydrophilic or water-soluble polymers used in industry are derived from polymers of natural origin, so coming from renewable resources (harvested crops, trees, waste animal products and so on), rather than petrochemical sources of finite availability.

This paragraph from the Tech Xplore article describes the research.

The Chemistry Department at Surrey is working with collaborators at Bristol, Professors Ian Hamerton and David Fermin, and Superdielectrics Ltd., an innovative British Research Company located at the Surrey Research Park to transform simple hydrophilic polymers which were originally developed for use as contact lenses, to realize a second critical energy storage process.

This could lead to the next generation of supercapacitors.


This is fascinating technology and it could save the world.

November 6, 2021 - Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, World | , , , , , ,


  1. My wife who was the Departmental Secretary for the Chemistry Department until she retired in 2008 has fond memories of Dr Bredan Howlin, who now leads to the University of Surrey research and Professor Ian Hammerton, now at Bristol who was also working there at the time.
    If you’re interested they are looking to recruit a research fellow with experience in the development of hydrophilic polymers for use as supercapacitor materials providing you have a PhD in Chemistry, Physics or related discipline. Usual problem though the employment term is limited by the available research funding.
    I always always think it takes a special kind of person to take on such precipitous terms of employment.

    Comment by fammorris | November 7, 2021 | Reply

  2. As I fund cancer research at my old University of Liverpool, I know the problems of research funding. I am a Control Engineer by training and skipped the PhD. I spent most of my life building mathematical models of all sorts.

    My experience from the 1970s, where I looked at the Physics and Chemistry of several chemical reactions for ICI tells me, that chemistry could be the next big thing, as so many industrial reactions can be improved, as many date from the eighteenth century.

    Comment by AnonW | November 7, 2021 | Reply

  3. About 25-30 years ago I remember a conversation where we decided that the future lay in new manufacturing techniques, the combination of control and IT, and discoveries in materials technology of which I obviously include chemistry.
    In a way I think we have gone backwards. You will remember at a time when British industry had a disinterested manufacturing base British scientists decamped to the USA under what was called the Brain Drain. Today while we have an enthusiastic research sector we still do not have that industrial base to encourage and exploit that work. Handouts from the Government are no substitute.

    Comment by fammorris | November 7, 2021 | Reply

  4. I have experience of getting government grants in the 1980s and anything out of the ordinary was a no-no!

    Looking at technology grants recently, they are much more widespread and more off-beat!

    Also the City is much happier to back the unusual.

    And we have crowdfunding, which I regularly use.

    I think it’s got a lot better.

    But the banks are still useless! Except for rare exceptions.

    Comment by AnonW | November 7, 2021 | Reply

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