Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Fish Diapers

September 1, 2000

The millions of tons of disposable diapers that Americans throw away every year account for about 1.5 percent of total municipal solid waste. At the same time, the commercial fishing industry catches and throws away more than 20 million tons of unwanted marine wildlife each year. Food scientist Srinivasan Damodaran at the University of Wisconsin may have found a way for one waste problem to help solve another: Put this “sea-kill” to an environmentally friendly use. By attaching water-binding molecules to protein extracts from the discarded fish, he has created a gel that absorbs as much as 600 times its weight in water-making it perfect for disposable diapers. What’s more, Damodaran says the protein nature of these gels makes the diapers biodegradable, reducing the burden on landfills. Damodaran says under the right conditions, these new gels would biodegrade in less than 30 days. Protein-based diapers would hold more weight than biodegradable diapers already on the market, which use starch. And since the leftover fish are virtually free, the diapers would be cheap to produce. Damodaran is working on other uses for the gel, including time-release herbicide delivery.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Technology that lets us “speak” to our dead relatives has arrived. Are we ready?

Digital clones of the people we love could forever change how we grieve.

How to befriend a crow

I watched a bunch of crows on TikTok and now I'm trying to connect with some local birds.

Starlink signals can be reverse-engineered to work like GPS—whether SpaceX likes it or not

Elon said no thanks to using his mega-constellation for navigation. Researchers went ahead anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.