Cine’al Ltd., an Israeli nanotechnology start-up, is developing technology to turn jellyfish into “super-absorbers,” making the much-disdained sea creature suitable for use in diapers, tampons, medical sponges, even paper towels.
Jellyfish have been the bane of Israeli beaches in recent years, as warmer ocean temperatures have made coastal waters more hospitable for the creatures. During spring and early summer, millions of them appear near beaches, shoot their poison into the water and make swimming next to impossible. Where jellyfish abound, the water is likely to be empty.
Unlike most sea creatures, jellyfish are mostly useless. Some species are eaten in the Far East and mucin, a chemical extracted from the creatures, is used in drug delivery systems. For the most part, they’re useless, even dangerous, pests, as jellyfish swarm not only near beaches, but near intake pipes as well, often clogging them up. This happened last November in Sweden, when jellyfish got into the pipes and clogged up the water intake systems of a nuclear power generator in Sweden, forcing it to shut down.
Cine’al sees a potential use for the scourge. Hydromash, the dry, flexible, strong material Cine’al is developing, is made from jellyfish and is allegedly several times more absorbent than the “quicker picker-upper” paper towels from the popular TV commercials.
“Right now, these items are made of synthetics, which take hundreds and thousands of years to break down,” said Ofer Du-Nour, chairman and president of Cine’al and head of investment firm Capital Nano. The latter invests in early-stage nanotechnology companies that are based on research emerging from Israeli universities.