HNSE-P2-4. Water Flow Through Hydrogels

Bianca Navarro1
Yiwei Gao1
Faculty Mentor: Jeremy Cho, Ph.D.1
1Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Hydrogels are materials made up of three-dimensional, crosslinked networks composed of hydrophilic polymer chains that are serviceable due to their ability to absorb and retain a significant amount of water. The rate of water absorption can be determined by testing the hydrogels’ permeability to improve the absorption efficiency. This study aims to determine the water permeability of hydrogels of varying crosslinker ratios to facilitate fast water absorption. Here, an aluminum apparatus was designed and manufactured to apply a pressure distribution to hydrogel samples using a water reservoir and pressure regulator. A LabView simulation was programmed to utilize Darcy’s Law to compute water permeability over a time interval. We anticipate that permeability will decrease as the crosslinker ratio increases due to the microstructure of the gel becoming denser. Additionally, we hypothesize that increasing the pressure distribution will compress the gel, also making it denser and decreasing the permeability. The findings will be implemented into an atmospheric water harvester to contend as a possible solution to water scarcity. They will also serve as a base for further research into altering water permeability of hydrogels using freeze/thaw cycles.

This research was funded by UNLV’s TRIO McNair Scholars Institute, which is housed within UNLV’s Center for Academic Enrichment and Outreach and funded under the TRIO Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program by a grant (P217A170069) from the U.S. Department of Education. 


Nov 15 - 19 2021


All Day


HNSE: Poster Session 2
The Office of Undergraduate Research


The Office of Undergraduate Research


4 Replies to “HNSE-P2-4. Water Flow Through Hydrogels”

  1. Hi Bianca. How do you manipulate the crosslinker ratio when creating the hydrogel? Is it a matter of combining ingredients in a different way? Or do you use a different process to cause the ratio to change?

  2. If anybody has any questions regarding this research, feel free to comment them below! I will try to respond as fast as possible.

  3. Bianca,

    Great presentation! The visual aids on the poster and the example of the kids’ toy made this really easy to understand as someone who doesn’t know much about this area. Great job!


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