By Dyann Daniel

In the heart of the Philippines, amidst the vibrant landscape of innovation, two brilliant minds, Lorna Relleve and Charito Aranilla, have spearheaded a groundbreaking invention set to transform the agricultural sector globally. Their creation, the Super Water Absorbent (SWA) gel, stands as a testament to the power of scientific ingenuity and environmental consciousness.


This biodegradable, non-toxic gel, derived from a fusion of cassava starch and acrylic acid, has emerged as a game-changer in sustainable farming practices. With its remarkable ability to absorb water up to 500 times its dry weight, the SWA gel holds the promise of revolutionizing irrigation methods, enhancing crop productivity, and mitigating the adverse effects of drought.

Driven by a shared vision to address environmental challenges, Relleve and Aranilla embarked on a journey of innovation, leveraging their expertise in the radiation processing of polymers and material science.  Their dedication culminated in the development of a technology that not only outperforms conventional superabsorbents but also champions eco-friendliness and biodegradability.


"The inspiration behind our invention stemmed from a desire to create a solution that not only meets the needs of agriculture but also respects the environment," shares Relleve, Senior Science Research Specialist at the DOST-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute.

Aranilla, Scientist at the same institute, adds, "We envisioned a product that not only conserves water but also promotes sustainable farming practices.  The SWA gel represents a harmonious blend of innovation and environmental stewardship."


Their invention caught the attention of the Department of Science and Technology - Technology Application & Promotion Institute (DOST-TAPI), which recognized its potential to make waves on the international stage.  With the assistance of DOST-TAPI, Relleve and Aranilla seized the opportunity to showcase their innovation at the prestigious Geneva International Exhibition of Inventions.

"The support of DOST-TAPI has been instrumental in bringing our invention into the global spotlight," says Relleve. "We are immensely grateful for the opportunity to showcase Filipino innovation on an international platform."


Indeed, the participation of Filipino inventions in global exhibitions like the one in Geneva signifies a significant step towards expanding market reach and tapping into new opportunities abroad.  Switzerland, known for its advanced technology sector and emphasis on sustainability, presents a fertile ground for Filipino innovations.

"The Philippines has a rich history of invention and innovation, and it's time for the world to take notice," emphasized Aranilla. "Our goal is not only to showcase the ingenuity of Filipino inventors but also to contribute to addressing global challenges."

As the SWA gel prepares to make its debut on the international stage, its impact reverberates far beyond the borders of the Philippines.  With its potential to revolutionize agriculture and promote sustainability, this invention embodies the spirit of Filipino innovation and holds the key to unlocking a brighter, greener future for generations to come.


In the words of Relleve and Aranilla, "Our journey as inventors has been driven by a passion for making a positive impact.  We are excited to share our invention with the world and to play a part in shaping a more sustainable future for all."

** This feature is a part of the "Shape the Future" campaign, highlighting nine Philippine inventions featured in the 49th International Exhibition of Inventions Geneva (IEIG) on April 17-21, 2023.  Competing for gold awards, these innovations also aim to promote local technologies for potential international technology transfer and commercialization.