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Caption: Supergel. Dish containing a supergel with amazing absorbent properties. The water-based hydrogel can absorb up to half its own weight in oil, for example, without affecting its structure. The gel consists of two polymers joined by very strong cross links. It is up to 1000 times stronger than similar gels. A liquid form of the gel sprayed on a crude oil slick will soak up the oil and thicken to allow the gel to be rolled up. The oil can be retrieved from the gel by a reversible reaction. The gel could also be used to treat burns victims and to transport drugs in the body. It was devel- oped by Drs Crowther and Eagland at the University of Bradford, England. Photographed in 2000.

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Keywords: engineering, england, environment, environmentally-friendly, hydrogel, new material, new materials technology, oil-absorbing, pollution treatment, polymer, supergel, university of bradford

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