A lot of us turn to paper towels when there’s a mess to be addressed.

We use something like 13 billion pounds of them a year in this country.

They’re useful, but they could also be greener.

Which is where this invention comes in: a reusable kitchen towel made of hydrogel.

This comes from a team at the University of Maryland.

They’ve developed a sheet made of a new kind of hydrogel that’s produced in a way that gives it a LOT of absorption power.

A lab test found that one of their gel sheets could absorb 25 milliliters of water in 20 seconds.

The paper towel in their test took three times as long to absorb about half as much.

The gel sheets could also be reusable: testing showed they kept their soft, flexible qualities for up to a year.

So, over time, the researchers can fine-tune their creation and then maybe mass produce it and we can all have these useful gel sheets on hand for when we spill stuff.

Simple enough, yes?

But there’s more.

Because these sheets are so good at absorbing liquids, they aren’t just useful for our clumsiest, messiest moments.

They could be put to use in hospitals.

Testing showed the gel sheets could absorb more blood more quickly than traditional methods like gauze or sponges.

So if you have a patient who’s been severely injured and might bleed out, the gel sheets could help keep the bleeding down when it matters most.

You could say this is one idea that’s really starting to jell…

Thanks to Mike in Illinois for sending this story over.

Rangers in Australia’s Conway National Park have found an invasive cane toad that may be the biggest one ever found.

The six pound toad was originally nicknamed Connie, after Conway National Park, but the name that stuck was Toadzilla.

Roll Over, Paper Towels—UMD Researchers Create Picker-Upper That’s Even Quicker (University of Maryland)

Australian park rangers say ‘Toadzilla’ could be world’s biggest toad (Reuters)

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Photo by Charity Davenport via Flickr/Creative Commons