It may not be the end of world hunger, but five MIT students have managed to solve a problem that irritates every household across the West, and could result in millions saved due to wasted food.
Have you ever wondered just how much liquid is wasted each year due to bottles with residual sauce that simply refuses to leave its container? No matter how much you hit the bottom, it's simply not going to happen.
A team at MIT decided to take this challenge on, with the ultimate aim of getting that last drop of tomato ketchup, mustard or Long Island dressing out of a bottle.
MIT PhD candidate Dave Smith, Rajeev Dhiman, Adam Paxson, Brian Solomon, and Chris Love, with support from their professor Kripa Varanasi, managed to crack the code last year. The result? LiquiGlide. Instead of trying to force out that ketchup by smacking bottles in rage or uttering a prayer to the Gods, they developed a safe, flavourless, edible, plant-based coating which can be used to prevent food sticking to sufaces.
Whether used in a plastic container or on a glass surface, LiquiGlide keeps matter moving, as the "structured" lubricant -- a solid which holds the liquid tightly to the surface where the liquid provides the lubricity -- stops condiments from sticking to a surface.
"We were really interested in -- and still are -- using this coating for anti-icing, or for preventing clogs that form in oil and gas lines, or for non-wetting applications like, say, on windshields. Somehow this sparked the idea of putting it in food bottles. It could be great just for its slippery properties. Plus, most of these other applications have a much longer time to market; we realized we could make this coating for bottles that is pretty much ready. I mean, it is ready."
Even when you ignore the other uses this type of product could have, the market for bottles is worth approximately $17 billion alone in the sauce industry. This seems to be something that industry players and researchers have taken an interest in, as the team came in second out of 215 teams in MIT's $100k Entrepreneurship Competition last year. However, that's not the end of the game for the students, as Time has named it one of the Best Inventions of 2012.
Hopefully we can expect further commercial development and testing in 2013.