If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



Hydrogels And Aerogels From Melons

Chemists transform watermelon, promising carbonaceous materials

by Bethany Halford
April 22, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 16

Credit: ACS Nano
Aerogel made from watermelon is light enough to rest upon a dandelion.
An aerogel made from watermelon sits atop a dandelion.
Credit: ACS Nano
Aerogel made from watermelon is light enough to rest upon a dandelion.

Heating a juicy watermelon in an autoclave at 180 °C for 12 hours will not improve the flavor of this summertime treat. In fact, it transforms the material into something that’s black and inedible. But the burnt melon also happens to be a hydrogel—a spongelike material that could find use as an adsorbent, a catalyst support, an electrode material for batteries, or even a supercapacitor. Freeze-drying that watermelon-derived hydrogel produces an aerogel, a lightweight material that also has promising properties for catalysis and in electronic applications. The simple, environmentally friendly hydrogel and aerogel syntheses were discovered by An-Wu Xu of the University of Science & Technology of China, Xiangke Wang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and coworkers (ACS Nano, DOI: 10.1021/nn400566d). Furthering the fruits of their labor, the researchers also laced the aerogels with Fe3O4 nanoparticles, creating a magnetite-carbon aerogel. They demonstrated that this composite aerogel could be a promising material for storing energy.


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.