My inbox was flooded today with emails about a Fox News story that ran earlier today. Can Diaper Gel Stop a Hurricane? Fox News reports that a Florida businessman thinks he has a way to stop Hurrican Rita using the superabsorbent polymer found in baby diapers. Peter Cordani wants to fly ten 747s into the hurricane filled with the water-absorbing polymer he calls Dyn-O-Gel. Cordani believes it could slow down and maybe even stop the hurricane.
I watched the streaming video of the original interview and a few things catch my attention. First of all, Cordani claims that the superabsorbent polymer (the actual chemical name for this is sodium polyacrylate) has an endothermic (or cooling) feature and it will cool the storm down up to 20 degrees. This is news to me… and to the thousands of high school chemistry students who conduct a standard lab using the diaper gel each year. Using a simple temperature probe, students determine that the physical reaction that takes place between the polymer and water is neither endothermic or exothermic. I’m no expert but I don’t think that the diaper gel would have any affect on the temperature of the water. But the notion of using the superabsorbent gel to slow down the progress of the hurricane is truly interesting.
What do you think?