Scientists discover new slippery packaging capable of squeezing last drop of product
Food left behind in plastic packaging contributes to the millions of pounds of perfectly edible products being wasted every year.
Scientists, including one of Indian origin, have developed super slippery packaging that lets consumers squeeze out every last drop of a product, and could significantly cut down food wastage.
These small, incremental amounts of sticky foods like condiments, dairy products, beverages, and some meat products that remain trapped in their packaging can add up to big numbers over time, even for a single household.
Researchers from Virginia Tech in the US aim to cut down on that waste with a novel approach to creating super slippery industrial packaging.
Not only will the technique help sticky foods release from their packaging much more easily, but for the first time, it can also be applied to inexpensive and readily available plastics such as polyethylene and polypropylene.
These hydrocarbon-based polymers make up 55 percent of the total demand for plastics in the world today, meaning potential applications for the research stretch far beyond just ketchup packets.
They are also among the easiest plastics to recycle.
"Previous SLIPS, or slippery liquid-infused porous surfaces, have been made using silicon- or fluorine-based polymers, which are very expensive," said Ranit Mukherjee, a doctoral student at Virginia Tech.
"But we can make our SLIPS out of these hydrocarbon-based polymers, which are widely applicable to everyday packaged products," said Mukherjee.
These surfaces are not only very slippery, but they're also self-cleaning, self-healing, and more durable than traditional superhydrophobic surfaces.
However, current SLIPS that use silicone- and fluorine-based absorbent polymers are not attractive for industrial applications due to their high cost, while the method of adding roughness to surfaces can likewise be an expensive and complicated process.
"Not only are we using these hydrocarbon-based polymers that are cheap and in high demand, but we don't have to add any surface roughness, either," said Jonathan Boreyko, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech.
"We use natural oils like cottonseed oil, so there are no health concerns whatsoever," he added.
While the method has obvious implications for industrial food and product packaging, it could also find widespread use in the pharmaceutical industry. The oil-infused plastic surfaces are naturally anti-fouling, meaning they resist bacterial adhesion and growth.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)