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Power-Free System Keeps Items Cool, Inspired by Camel Furs

The material proves beneficial for transporting perishable goods and pharmaceutical.

Power-Free System Keeps Items Cool, Inspired by Camel Furs
MIT

Not a day goes by without humans mimicking nature to develop beneficial technologies for its species. And this time, scientists from MIT have just come up with a two-layered material to keep things literally cool without any additional power supply.

Simply inspired by the way camels' furs keep their water storage cool and preserved in piping hot deserts, the researchers suggest that the material could be in use of keeping perishable goods fresh and is a reliable system to cover those goods while transporting. Pharmaceuticals can also be considered a potential candidate to benefit from the material.

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Reportedly, developing countries are suffering from low access to electricity and the material might turn out beneficial for such countries, not depending on a power supply. “Because this passive cooling approach does not rely on electricity at all, this gives you a good pathway for storage and distribution of those perishable products in general,” Zhengmao Lu, one of the authors of the study explains.

The material consists of two layers; a bottom layer incorporating hydrogel, covered in a sponge-like matrix to allow water to evaporate, and function as sweat glands. The upper layer is of aerogel to function as the fur which hinders the external heat and lets the vapor pass through. The combination of two layers is less than a half-inch thick.

Two years ago, MIT researchers had developed a powerless cooling system that could work in off-grid locations. It seems that the institution is keen on moving forward with environmentalist approaches.

Hydrogels are basically gelatin-like substances including water and water makes the substance disperse easily. 

As the study suggests, hydrogels are nothing new in the use of cooling applications, however, this material combined with the upper layer of aerogel has just surpassed the expectations. It is able to keep the item covered within cool five times longer than the hydrogel alone. Talking about a comparison of eight days versus less than two.

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The study has been published in the journal Joule on Nov. 11, 2020.

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