Powdered water could solve all of the adventurers’ hydration problems for good. Could. Conditional.
What I remember as an absurd and appealing hoax is now almost a reality. A priori crazy, right? Let’s take a closer look.
As a teenager, in a magazine I can’t remember, I remember coming across a fake advertisement in the style of the 1950s.
It was absurdly funny: it showed a bag containing dehydrated H20, the article of which boasted the promise of an end to the bulky and heavy jerry cans of laborious shipping. One now carried several litres of drinkable water in sachets or cans, which were reduced to nothing.
A prodigious and definitive invention.
Of course, before serving, it was necessary to add the equivalent of the powder in as many litres of water.
No matter how many pages I scrolled down, I couldn’t find that fake 50’s ad in an April Fool’s Day costume. The closest I could find, redesigned in today’s fashion, is this:
The same joke, always.
And so: end of the dream?
This weekend, as part of the preparation of my upcoming trip on the Petite Seine and while ordering my cosmonaut meals…
I confess that I felt a little dizzy when I discovered this:
Drinking water in bags
I don’t always keep up with the latest scientific developments. So when I read “Drinking water – in a bag”, I thought that modernity had taken over the old joke and finally made it possible. So I clicked on the link with feverish anticipation.
I soon realised that water in a bag was never just water… in a bag.
15 litres of bagged water, although full of preservatives and perfect for bomb shelter storage, still weighed 15 kilos.
In search of powdered water
Disappointed, I did a few quick online queries with the following keywords:
Powdered water: hoax or reality?
Well, as it turns out, powdered water does exist – even if we’re not about to use it on a hike.
So, on the futura science website – written in french – I came across an article from which I am translating an extract below:
“It is in fact tiny droplets of water coated with silica and which appear as a powder resembling sugar. Like aerogel, which consists mainly of air, dry water contains 95% water. It should not be confused with dry ice, which is solid carbon dioxide.
Andrew Cooper and Ben Carter of the University of Liverpool have been interested in this product for several years and are exploring its various possible applications. After several publications on the subject, they believe that this unlikely substance should have a bright future.
They first showed that dry water could absorb a significant amount of methane and thus be used to store and transport natural gas. Methane is usually transported either after cooling to -113°C or under a pressure of about 500 bar. But it combines with dry water at only -70°C. So there is a potential for future energy based on natural gas, for example for vehicles using this fuel.
Then chemists discovered that dry water could also store CO2, up to three times more than normal water or silica. For them, it would therefore be a good way of creating carbon sinks to limit global warming. We could even trap other troublesome gases released by industry.”
Great, then, for industry and ecology. But for autonomous trekking on the thirsty Loire à Vélo: not so good.
Call for projects
I therefore extend a solemn invitation to chemists around the world:
Ladies and gentlemen, the search is on for the development of freeze-dried water. It is a promising and very profitable niche. Incidentally, in addition to lightening the bags of Western walkers, it will also make it possible to give something other than amoebic and choleratic soups to billions of human beings to drink. I guarantee the Nobel.
Please forward your applications via the contact form.