Of all the great discoveries in this world nothing really compares to the great wonders of this highly absorbant polymer. It can absorb as much as 400 times its own weight in water. though as you will see this is not the only thing. From here we will see how to extract polysorb both mechanically and in a chemical manner. Also a small tidbit regarding my use of the substance.
This molecules look like the picture above. It appears to be chains composed of carboxylate groups, except of where we would normally see hydrogen, they have been replaced by sodium ions. In theory the sodium ions get dissolved when exposed to water, yet remain close enough to the parent chain such that no large net charge is built up. Once the sodium ions break free off of the carboxylate group, this leaves behind a negative oxygen, which becomes stabilized due to resonance between the other oxygen. Locally the carboxylate groups become negatively charged and repel each other leading to the "swelling" seen when one gets the polysorb wet. And becomeing a spoonge with a LOT of nano spaces for the water to fill.
We will be using this to our advantage. Polysorb works very well when no other positive ion is in solution, this would cause water molecules to travel all over the place instead of dipole bonding to the sodium ions.
We will be using diapers as a source of PolySorb. To extract polysorb we will be using near 100% conc. Surfuric acid. Why you ask? It's relatively cheap, already a liquid, contains no water, and destorys most organics. This last advantage is what we will be exploiting for the chemical method.
Mechanically there is a simple way of extracting polysorb assuming you have large amounts of diapers to begin with, and don't want to worry about the trash. Just cut open the diaper and place containts into a container and shake vigourisly. Afterwards you should have a bunch of Polysorb and left over cotten still containning a reasonable amount of polysorb. This is where chemicals come in - we will be disolving the left over cotton in acid, and netrualizing the solution.
What we will need
+ Near 100% H2SO4, higher the better.
+ Left over cotten from cut open diapers[clean]
+ Baking Soda (Na2CO3)
+ Gloves, goggles, usual saftey equipment
+ Glassware - stirring rod, beaker
+ A ready Ice Bath
+ Coffee filters
1) In a glass beaker pour a little bit of the concentrated H2SO4 in. You only need a little, since every molecule of sulfuric acid has 2 hydrogens this is a very strong acid. And a little goes along way.
2) As extend proof towards the strength of the acid disolve as much of the cotten as you possible can into the beaker of acid. While keeping a constant stir. If the reaction starts to become a tad too warm transfer over into an ice bath.
3) As you can see the acid is capable of disolving cotton with ease, yet if you look closely (you better have goggles on if you're doing this experiment) you will see the pieces of polysorb still intack. What's more interesting is the fact it hasn't swelled up. This is because the plentiful hydronium ions block the effects of the detached sodium ions. By partially bonding to teh leaving site. (More on that later). To finish the reaction add just a little more H2SO4 - only a few drops, and stir for another minute.
4) Now place the beaker into an ice bath if you haven't done so already. And add(while stirring) the Baking Soda slowly(to prevent foaming). As you will see the products become chunky, and see some gas comming off. That is Hydrogen gas from the Acid becoming netrualized. As you add more Baking Soda you will see the products becomming chunky, that's to be expected since one of the by products of neturualization is water, the Polymer is absorbing what water has been created. What you should get when you finsh is a bunch of clay looking products.
5) Now time to filter this. Scrape all the product into a coffee filter, and wrap it like in the figure. Next rinse with water. The waste filtrate [Na2SO4(aq)] may be dumped onto a lawn (makes good insecticide).
6) After rinsing, let dry. Then after it won't dry anymore in the air, place in oven and heat it up to 100'C or until you get fine grains. Harvest and store your Polysorb in an air tight containner.
Because I will in the near future edit this page as a demo. Let me say Polysorb is an excellent toy. Granted you shouldn't carelessly toss it around. It has many uses. I personally use it for hazmat related spills. I mix it in with my Na2CO3 hazmat kit. When there's a spill pour it on - not only does it netrualize the acid, it absorbs and prevents further speading.