The powdered material, which looks like icing sugar or flour, could help absorb and store carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.

It could also prove a commercial hit in other areas, according to research presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston, this month (August).

Ben Carter, PhD researcher for University of Liverpool study leader Professor Andrew Cooper, said: “There’s nothing else quite like it. Hopefully, we may see ‘dry water’ making waves in the future.”

The powder is called “dry water” because it is 95 per cent water.

But it remains dry because each powder particle contains a water droplet surrounded by modified silica nanoparticles – the component of beach sand.

The shell stops the droplets from combining and reverting to liquid.

Dry water is not a new idea. It was first discovered in the late 1960s for use in the cosmetic industry.

Now, scientists are working on its use in a range of applications.

The substance has three times the carbon dioxide absorption capacity of ordinary water and sand, researchers found.

This could make it a tool for tackling global warming though it is feared making it work in this way would be complicated.

Scientists also believe it could be used as a safer, more convenient way to store and transport natural gas thereby expanding the energy source potential of methane.

A car running on natural gas could be powered via a pressurized tank of dry water storing the methane.

Dry water could also help speed up the process of creating succinic acid, which is used to make consumer products, including drugs and food ingredients.

The team are understood to be looking for commercial or academic collaborators to help develop applications.

David Gibbs

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