Jellyfish Jellyfish Jellyfish at the Monterey Aquarium (Photo: NBphotostream / Flickr)

How diapers from jellyfish could help the environment

An Israeli company is developing a super-absorbent material that biodegrades quickly.

What do you get when you cross a jellyfish with a disposable diaper?

The latest in eco-friendly parenting, according to Israeli startup Cine’al Ltd. This nanotechnology company is developing a line of super-absorbent, super-biodegradable products derived from the flesh of jellyfish.

Researchers say the product, known as hydromash, is a win-win: jellyfish are considered a growing nuisance to beaches, and disposable diapers are a nuisance to the earth.

Products made from synthetic polymers, found in disposable diapers, paper towels and other absorbent materials, take hundreds of years to decompose. The Environmental Protection Agency reported that 3.4 million tons of diapers enter landfills each year in the United States.

Meanwhile, the growing number of jellyfish in oceans has perplexed scientists and wreaked havoc on beaches, boats and even nuclear power plants. Scientists say their proliferation is a result of warming waters, and they’ve been unable to control the massive influx.

Watch a documentary on this phenomenon:

"There are too many jellyfish in the sea, and too many Pampers in landfills. Cine’al may have the ultimate answer to both those issues," Cine’al President Ofer Du-Nour said.

Cine’al’s hydromash was inspired by research on the absorbent properties of jellyfish at Tel Aviv University. Researchers found that the bodies of jellyfish are 90 percent water, yet they don’t disintegrate or dissolve.

The result is a material that takes 30 days – a vast difference from hundreds of years – to break down. And Du-Nour is hoping that parents can put aside the "cringe factor" associated with those slimy sea creatures and be willing to make the switch.

"... In many products it’s likely that the consumer won’t even know about it, similar to many other products with ingredients that are derived from animals and plants," he said.

Cine’al is in talks to join existing jellyfish-harvesting facilities in both South Korea and South Carolina.


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