Any scientists?

Not sure I want to commit Biocide, don’t germs have rights too ?

I think their rights are proportional the the product of their relative size and degree of self-awareness!

Depends in what you consider as ‘bugs’: there’s no risk of parasites as they won’t be able to move through the gel matrix, there is however a potential problem with bacteria (and possibly fungi/yeasts); and there’s also the consideration of how long the thing is designed to last, hence how long it’s required that the bactericide must remain effective.

In the case of the list above, the zinc citrate is there to control bacteria to a fairly low level. For an item on public display I don’t believe that would be sufficient. Using silver nitrate (which would decompose into colloidal silver) in addition to the zinc would improve matters considerably, but I’m not sure even this would be sufficient. Adding sodium azide would, but that presents it’s own hazard (it’s toxic). Maybe zinc citrate, benzalkonium chloride and colloidal silver would do the job, but this isn’t my area of expertise; you’d have to get the opinion of a bacteriologist.

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@Xanthe Thank you for all that, you gave me an idea. Fungi might be a part of the work, especially for woodland sculpture trails. . . ‘Living sculptures’. I have coated stone scupture with fertiliser in the past, it makes the surface go green very quickly. I’m going to have to track down a supply of the materials for making - water expandable sculpture. Wonder what happens when this material freezes in the winter when in a waterlogged state.

That might be a problem as the growth of the ice crystals may mechanically damage the polymer, on the other hand the synthetic polymers can dry out completely and rehydrate successfully, unlike the biopolymers. Since freezing is very similar to drying (i.e. it removes the water by locking it away into ice crystals), the synthetics may survive. You’d probably need to try it.

Growing fungi on it may not be such a good idea (although it may actually work fine!), firstly you’d not be able to lace it with biocides to control bacteria (although the fungi will do that themselves to some degree), secondly fungi are saprophytes and their hyphae may be aggressive enough to degrade even synthetic polymers and use them as food.

This will all need a lot of experimentation to see if it works OK.

The Dutch have super absorbing dikes already.

@Xanthe , I often make timebased work, so the idea of fungi eating the sculpture it grows on or in, fires me to start experimenting. Thank you

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