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TECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Intelligent Liquids
An inside glimpse at what's new in emerging technologies
During the past three years, much progress has been made in the development of intelligent liquids. The research, conducted at Kurwell Aqua Systems. Inc., is largely classified, but it is widely believed that next year will see the first commercial applications reach the marketplace.
"Smart water," as the new substances are coming to be known, is being adapted for use in several fields.
As an ingredient of soft drinks and other foodstuffs, it is able to sense the chemical environment of the mouth and stomach, and adjust its pH value accordingly. Kurwell chemists have demonstrated a smart water-based flavoring additive whose taste resembles that of anise, a flavor that some people find delightful and others mildly unpleasant. The Kurwell smart anise is able, in at least some cases, to understand when the host person dislikes its initial taste, and to rapidly produce a sweet, venison-like taste that most anisephobes find more acceptable.
In hydrolic micro-control mechanisms, smart water is proving to be invaluable for its ability to alter its viscosity in response to changing conditions. Tests have shown some indication that it may be possible to develop forms of the liquid which are able to substantially increase their viscosity when a leak develops in the piping system. Kurwell researchers are, for example, working on a smart water antifreeze fluid for automobiles; the goal is to have a fluid that protects an engine against extremes of both heat and cold, and which is also able to plug radiator ruptures. (Kurwell has already licensed the rights to one spinoff of this technology - a variable viscosity "smart ketchup.")
The wine industry is thought to be looking into the technology. Kurwell's marketing officials only half-jokingly allude to the prospect of creating a "truly sophisticated" wine. Kurwell is also known to be negotiating development and licensing arrangements to adapt its technology to a variety of more broadly useful agricultural applications, including an irrigant additive that, Kurwell researchers speculate, could alleviate the onset of frost in citrus fruits and other crops that are especially temperature-sensitive.
Kurwell is also doing experimental work in pharmaceuticals. The company has achieved preliminary results, involving a smart water laxative. Kurwell says it is unable to release its results at present, but predicts an imminent breakthrough.
© Copyright 2002 Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)
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