Scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras have developed a biodegradable superabsorbent polymer using chitosan obtained from seafood waste, citric acid and urea (CHCAUR). Each gram of the polymer holds the potential to absorb at maximum 1250 gram of water and could help shorten the lifecycle of disposable diapers.
Compared to the material currently used in commercial diapers, scientists found that CHCAUR is about eight times more absorbent. It has a crosslinked polymer structure with the polymer gel.
Scientists used various techniques including solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy and thermogravimetric analysis to understand the properties of the diaper. Using scanning electron microscopy, they confirmed that macropores in the gel surrounded by a fibrous network of chitosan molecules forming an agitated surface.
Abathodharanan Narayanan, a researcher on the project, says, “We have tested our material as an additive to soil for the growth of some potted plants like chilly, at home, and find that it is enough if they are watered once every four to five days.”
The research team included Raghavachari Dhamodharan, Narayanan, Ravishankar Kartik and Elanchezhian Sangeetha, all from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. The results of the study have been published in journal Carbohydrate Polymers.