Scientists and engineers at the University of Texas at Austin have created a hydrogel tablet that can rapidly purify contaminated water. The special hydrogels generate hydrogen peroxide to neutralize bacteria, using zero energy input and without creating harmful byproducts or leaving any residue. As well as purifying water, the hydrogels could also improve solar distillation, which uses sunlight to separate water from harmful contaminants via vaporization. Graduate student Youhong Guo discovered the hydrogels unexpectedly while working on solar distillation.

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