Researchers at the Austraila-based UNSW have developed a graphene-based material that could revolutionize moisture control in applications as diverse as electronics, packaging and air conditioning – and which could also be used to keep footwear fresh.
The new dessicant, made from graphene oxide, is reported to significantly outperform current drying agents, and is twice as absorbent as the industry standard, silica gel. “This is a stable new material that shows significant gains in adsorption capacity over conventional desiccants,” says the team.
“One novel application we are investigating is the integration of the desiccant into inner soles of shoes to control odor and moisture. As the moisture could be released back into the atmosphere using an ordinary household device like a warm oven, shoes could be recharged regularly to keep them constantly fresh.”
The desiccant is made of layers of graphene oxide. The researchers showed the material’s extraordinary adsorption and desorption rates were due to the high capillary pressure in the laminates and tunnel-like wrinkles on their surfaces. The researchers say the ability to fine-tune the spaces between the layers of graphene oxide as desired will allow the development of customized dessicants to control moisture across multiple applications.
The new desiccant can also discharge moisture at energy-saving low temperatures, enabling it to be easily used over and over again. By contrast, the heating required to regenerate conventional desiccants is often considered prohibitively expensive.