ARS scientists created SuperSlurper by marrying starch to a synthetic chemical.
Starch is the
main constituent of grain flours, and the most plentiful starch is cornstarch.
Although most of the products from corn milling go into food and feed, 4.5
billion pounds of starch are annually produced, largely for nonfood purposes.
Of this amount, 3.5 billion pounds are used in the paperboard, paper, and
related industries, where starch serves both as an adhesive and a
And new uses for cornstarch continue to
surprise us. For example, when ARS scientists married starch to a synthetic
chemical, they managed to create a product so thirsty, it could absorb hundreds
of times its own weight in water. Someone called it SuperSlurper, and the name
After patents were secured in 1976,
SuperSlurper started popping up all over the marketplace. The absorbent
compound, which can slurp up to 2,000 times its weight in water, is used as an
electrical conductor in batteries. You can find it in fuel filters, baby
powders, and wound dressings. Compounds very much like it are now used in
disposable diapers and sanitary napkins.