Researchers in Sweden just set a new record for surface area and water adsorption (different than absorption) with their material, Upsalite.
The material — according to the researchers — should allow for drastic reductions in the total amount of energy needed to control environmental moisture in the electronics and drug formulation industries, as well as in warehouses, storage facilities, etc. As well as having, no doubt, a number of other potential applications — such as toxic waste collection, chemical spill clean-up, oils spill clean-up, odor control, etc…
Upsalite is essentially just a water-free disordered form of magnesium carbonate. Ordered forms of magnesium carbonate are actually very common in nature — both forms with water, and those without water — but water-free disordered forms aren’t, and a century of trying to manufacture the material in the lab has proved unsuccessful, until now of course. In 1908, German researchers claimed that the material could indeed not be made in the same way as other disordered carbonates, by bubbling CO2 through an alcoholic suspension. Subsequent studies in 1926 and 1961 came to the same conclusion.
Source: Green Building Elements