MIT researchers solve problem of getting ketchup out of the bottle

Researchers at MIT have figured out a way to help liquids on their way out of containers. The solution solves the problem that consumers have had for years sitting at their kitchen tables: getting ketchup out of the bottle. Helping consumers use all of their condiments is not the only benefit, according to the developers.

As it says on the LiquiGlide website, “be it the pouring of a ketchup bottle, creating efficiency gains on a power plant condenser or preventing a medical tube from clogging, LiquiGlide coatings are a breakthrough technology for solid-liquid interfaces.”

Working only with FDA-approved materials to create the substance, MIT PhD candidate Dave Smith and the team at MIT’s Varanasi Research Group created the unique material that he calls “kind of a structured liquid—it’s rigid like a solid, but it’s lubricated like a liquid.” The process does not involve nanotechnology, and the coatings can be created from all sorts of materials. Applying it to glass, metal, ceramic or plastic bottles, tubes or pipe allows for “an efficient and complete evacuation of liquids” from the vessels. Drops as small as 20 microns shed off a LiquiGlide-coated surface, Smith added.

The coating was initially developed for keeping airplane wings clear of ice, but the ideas surrounding the coating quickly moved to all kinds of practical applications, including food bottles. The applications don’t stop there.

The industrial applications are numerous. Putting LiquiGlide into processing lines could help prevent clogs, increase efficiency, and reduce cleaning and maintenance time. The substance could be applied to condensers in power plants and thereby improve efficiency by increasing the shedding of water droplets. Power lines or refrigeration units could be coated with the material to prevent ice build up.

LiquiGlide could benefit all kinds of industrial plants, limiting the amount of downtime required for cleaning and maintenance of automated machinery, like those used for filling containers or the lines on machines, effectively saving both time and money for producers. It will, also, help us get ketchup out of bottles as early as 2014.

To read more, visit Automation World.

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