There are two things I learned in my organic technology lab. The first one is that formic acid is corrosive. The second one is that a superslurper can take 600 times its weight in water.
Who would have thought that vinegar's little cousin is so nasty to your skin? It has the same R and S statements as acetic acid. How would I have known it's so bad? I guess I could have known because ants wouldn't use it if it weren't bad (but how do they handle it?). Anyway, it was only a small bit of my skin.
A less dangerous procedure is synthesising the essential part of a diaper. A super slurper is starch copolymerised with acrylnitrile and 2-acrylamido-2-methyl-1-propanesulfonic acid. The nitrile groups are partially hydrolysed, then it looks like this.
You start out with a few crumbs ...
... add water ...
... and you get huge amounts of jelly.
It took about 100 times its weight in water. This apparently goes up to 600.
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