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Science Idle

MIT Creates Superhydrophobic Condiment Bottles 292

Posted by samzenpus
from the that's-some-fast-mustard dept.
An anonymous reader writes "First we had a superhydrophobic spray that meant no dirt or sweat could stick to your clothes. Then a hydrophobic nanocoating was created for circuit boards to make them water resistant. Now MIT has gone a step further and solved one of the ongoing problems of using condiments: they've figured out how to make a food-safe superhydrophobic coating for food packaging. It means ketchup and mayonnaise will no longer be stuck to the insides of the bottle, and therefore there will no longer be any waste. What's amusing is this seems to be a happy accident. The MIT team was actually investigating slippery coatings to stop gas and oil lines clogging as well as how to stop a surface from having ice form on it. Now their lab is filled with condiments for continued testing of their food-safe version."
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MIT Creates Superhydrophobic Condiment Bottles

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  • How durable? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by j-stroy (640921) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @08:45PM (#40095527)
    Is it durable enough to be used on washless or "rinse-off" dishes? Also possible application as a coating on bathroom fixtures, or perhaps applied to the inside of wax paper bags so the icing stays on my take-out snax.. come to think of it toothpaste tubes and racing swimsuits. Let alone the prank potential!

    This stuff should probably be shipped in double walled tanker trucks.. hate to see what it does when spilt on a roadway.
    • by couchslug (175151) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @08:54PM (#40095603)

      "Is it durable enough to be used on washless or "rinse-off" dishes?"

      To hell with the dishes, think of the Fleshlights!

    • by Yaztromo (655250)

      This stuff should probably be shipped in double walled tanker trucks.. hate to see what it does when spilt on a roadway.

      Yeah, but shipping it in large tankers would be awesome -- if they had a spill, the compound would simply hover about 1.5m off the surface of the waves!

      Yaz

    • by Fluffeh (1273756)

      As funny as it sounds, to reduce skin friction, you need to introduce turbulence - a very special type of turbulence. This has been the focus of quite a bit of research especially for aircraft and boats. This link [onera.fr] (PDF warning) will explain how this is achieved.

      • by fluffy99 (870997)

        As funny as it sounds, to reduce skin friction, you need to introduce turbulence - a very special type of turbulence. This has been the focus of quite a bit of research especially for aircraft and boats. This link [onera.fr] (PDF warning) will explain how this is achieved.

        That's not friction. That's drag.

        Heinz shaped their bottles specifically so that the ketchup would be harder to get out, thereby adding to the illusion that their product was thicker and better.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      This stuff should probably be shipped in double walled tanker trucks.. hate to see what it does when spilt on a roadway.

      Is hydrophobic synonym with frictionless?

      If not, price aside, then it might be even a good idea, as an improvement for the water draining capacity of the road.

      • by j-stroy (640921)
        A dry road with a little oil on it drives fine.. then when it rains, very slippery. It is not the oil, its the combination of it with water thats the problem.
    • How about on cars and jets? Would that reduce drag and keep the water off?

  • Wrong Item (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @08:48PM (#40095549)

    Need superhydrophobic keyboards.

    • Mod up. I just last night spilled half a bottle of beer into an irreplaceable Model M keyboard. I'm lucky I had another. Maybe I can take it apart and clean it. Also, back to on-topic: Isn't Teflon already pretty hydrophobic (though a bit too expensive to make throwaway ketchup bottles with)?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @08:53PM (#40095597)

        >I'm lucky I had another.

        I don't think irreplaceable means what you think it means...

      • by Burdell (228580)

        Yeah, completely irreplaceable [pckeyboard.com].

      • Can't you just throw those in the dishwasher? I swear someone told me they were dishwasher safe (as long as you let them dry thoroughly before using, and didn't use detergent like a retard), but I've never been lucky enough to own one and even if I did, don't know if I would dare try unless I was in your desperate situation.

        Since you have nothing to lose...experiment time!

        • Most electronics aren't harmed by getting wet. They're harmed by getting wet while electrified. So long as you thoroughly dry them before hooking them back up, it shouldn't be a problem. Thus, you can wash a Model M in the dishwasher if you disconnect it first and dry it afterward, but if you spill beer in it it's probably toast.
  • And curiously, a radio ad I hear a lot lately is starts off about the super-high-tech drains that can't clog. Then it goes on to say that those drains don't exist and pimps a drain-cleaning company.

    So how long will it be before we have superhyrdophobic sewer pipe?

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      And curiously, a radio ad I hear a lot lately is starts off about the super-high-tech drains that can't clog.

      Can't clog? You mean even if I'm throwing a bucket load of superglue down the drain?

      • by chromas (1085949)
        Well, first, you'd have to visit every store in your city and clear out their entire inventory of those tiny, tiny tubes to get even half a bucket-worth of super glue.
      • That would probably line some of the rougher areas of the pipe pretty well, but if you've ever tried to superglue metal, it's almost impossible to get the bond you expect. Glues just don't stick to metal very well - I don't even completely understand why. I doubt superglue down the pipes is going to clog them as much as expected.

      • by cffrost (885375)

        And curiously, a radio ad I hear a lot lately is starts off about the super-high-tech drains that can't clog.

        Can't clog? You mean even if I'm throwing a bucket load of superglue down the drain?

        Sure, just pour an equal volume of acetone down the drain. You can get acetone by the gallon at the hardware store. If you have plastic pipes, put your bucket under the sink first, in order to catch your acetone for future reuse.

  • by methano (519830) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @08:59PM (#40095647)
    I wonder what this stuff is. It's pretty easy to silylate vast quantities of glassware in a vacuum oven with hexamethyldisilazane. Water beads up on the glass after treatment. It's covalent so it doesn't wash off unless you add something to dissolve the glass. Glass surfaces act sort of like an iPad. Maybe that's what they do to it to give it that greasy feel.

    Of course, the article provided a wealth of chemical information as one would expect.
    • by sFurbo (1361249) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @09:11AM (#40098853)
      TMS'ing a surface just makes it lipophile, so fat will stick to it. If you want a chemical hydro- and lipophobe, perfluorinated hydrocarbons are the way to go (teflon, microwave popcorn bags, muffin forms, basically anything paper or board that contacts food without problems). It seems they are not that healthy, so superhydrophobic structures might be the way to go, at least for food containers. Read up on it, it is pretty cool.
  • by macraig (621737) <mark...a...craig@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @09:03PM (#40095679)

    ... but it's not, not to the people running the companies that sell the condiments and spec the packaging. They WANT people to waste the product, because that means the companies can sell more, and it's far cheaper for those companies to make more than it is for consumers to waste it. Guess who winds up profiting from the waste?

    Another example: something so mundane as toothpaste. For decades there have been TV commercials and print ads depicting actors using completely obscene amounts of the stuff, literally an order of magnitude more than is required for an effective result. Colgate and other companies have been encouraging that waste for decades, and that stuff has consequences when it winds up in bodies of water. I also suspect there was a bit of sinister collaboration in the design of at least one electric toothbrush, again intended to manipulate people to use more toothpaste than required: one model originally had just the useful rotating circular head, but then later added a fixed-bristle region adjacent for - you guessed it - holding more toothpaste.

    The final insult: at least one of those makers decided to tinker with the diameter of the toothpaste tube opening, which had been a de facto standard for decades. I have a backpacking/travel toothbrush that I bought in the Eighties, which included its own mini-tube that had to be refilled by screwing a tube of toothpaste into one end and squeezing; this was only made feasible because all tubes of toothpaste used exactly the same opening diameter and thread spacing. Fast forward to 2010 and my purchase of toothpaste made by Church-Dwight, and my subsequent angry discovery that they had increased the diameter of the tube opening such that it no longer fit my old travel toothbrush. Now why would they increase the diameter of the opening? It couldn't possibly have anything to do with promoting incidental waste and selling more tubes of product, could it?

    I'm a perennial cynic and skeptic, but I doubt these superhydrophobic containers will ever be used for condiments. Not only would the more expensive packaging cut into profits, the reduced waste would make a dent in them, too.

    • There is no doubt some truth to that but I think this could be seen as something that would boost margin on a "premium" product.

      Oftentimes the exact same sauce (or toothpaste) comes in different bottles (not simply different sizes). Perhaps both a glass bottle and a squeezy bottle right next to each other on the shelf with the squeezy bottle being more expensive due to the "convenience". It's not hard to imagine these swanky bottles being used to achieve some price differentiation, extracting more money
    • by EvolutionInAction (2623513) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @10:22PM (#40096121)
      Sorry, but you're full of shit. My Uncle used to work for a company that produced gelled consumables - stuff like ketchup. He designed bottles that would avoid high adhesion at the bottom. See, it turns out that people get really annoyed when they can't get that last bit out of the bottle. Enough to switch brands, even.
      • by Crash24 (808326)
        Even if most condiment manufacturers find it more cost-effective to skip on the coating (for whatever reason), there are bound to be at least a few that use it to set themselves apart as a superior product.
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Sorry, but you're full of shit. My Uncle used to work for a company that produced gelled consumables - stuff like ketchup. He designed bottles that would avoid high adhesion at the bottom. See, it turns out that people get really annoyed when they can't get that last bit out of the bottle. Enough to switch brands, even.

        Yeah, that's why most people start putting the bottle upside down when it gets low so you don't wait ages for the ketchup to move from the bottom to the cap. Heck, it can go on its side and m

    • by l00sr (266426)

      My guess is that the decreased buying frequency due to less waste will almost certainly be outweighed by the increased buying frequency due to the product being easier to dispense. Think, "oops, I just squeezed out the entire bottle of ketchup again!"

    • by Guppy06 (410832)

      They WANT people to waste the product, because that means the companies can sell more,

      This assumes that the wasted product is worth more than the packaging it's stuck in. In other words, this assumes that the winner is the product manufacturer rather than the container manufacturer.

      and that stuff has consequences when it winds up in bodies of water.

      General Ripper claims prior art.

      Now why would they increase the diameter of the opening?

      Because people are keeping their natural teeth longer, and old people have trouble squeezing things. Increasing the diameter of the nozzle reduces the necessary pressure to get the same mass flow, making it easier for people with reduced manual strength to get some out of the tube

    • (Not sure if this an urban myth)

      Long time ago, a worker at a big toothpaste manufacturer made a suggestion:

      "Why not increase the diameter of the toothpaste nozzle?"

      See, people put on toothpaste on their toothbrushes based on the LENGTH not VOLUME of the paste. By increasing the diameter or width of the applied toothpaste, the consumer would use up much more of the toothpaste with every application. Thus they would use up the toothpaste more quickly (and since it's not a high cost expense, be unlikely to b

      • by macraig (621737)

        That story has only a chance to be true if people are actually mimicking the excessive way they've seen actors applying it in commercials: a big fat strip resting on the bristles. That's the dumbest fucking way you could possibly do it, even aside from the wastefulness; the paste will separate from the brush immediately and you'll have little gobs of unlathered paste all over your mouth. No, the right way to apply it is to squeeze the paste INTO the bristles, and only a tenth or less what the actors imply

    • Even worse is the detergent overuse problem. This happens in dishwashers, washing machines, hand washed dishes, etc. The measuring cup is often 10X the necessary size, and some people fill it twice to get things extra clean. All that detergent cleans less effectively, clogs the machinery and plumbing, pollutes waterways. You can take most peoples laundry and wash it without soap several times before it gets clean. There is so much residue on swimsuits that pools and hot tubs get sudsy.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Now all we need to do is get rid of those silly bottles that don't fit in the fridge, take up too much shipping space getting to the stores and clog up the recycling system. Instead we could use simple plastic bags (just like in Russia) that conveniently fit in any free space in the fridge, and don't waste space. Also, you cut the hole in the corner with scissors so you can choose how big it is (and therefore how fast it is dispensed). The bags could be biodegradable (or recyclable in bulk like paper is).

    Th

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      what if you dont use it all, are you going to wake up and see a bunch of ketchup water all over the place?

    • by wvmarle (1070040) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:53AM (#40097821)

      About 25 years ago, on a trip in Czechoslovakia (a few years before the fall of the Wall) I experienced those bags for packing milk. My parents told me that in their childhood also in Netherlands plastic bags were used for milk, but such packing had long since been abandoned. Sure convenient to store and little waste, but that's all there is to them.

      When opened, they're a pain to store as they don't have the rigidity of a bottle so tend to fall over. They're hard to grab on to, again no rigidity, so great risk of spills or sprays when picking up an opened bag.

      And then they just look plain ugly compared to bottles. And, even though the content is the same, a prettier packing commends a higher retail prices and higher sales. That's just how consumers make their choice.

      So long story short: the West used them too, long time ago, and it's not just because that this kind of packing is not used any more for anything but small bags of ketchup in McDonald's.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The "West" has used them continuously since at least the 1970s, assuming Canada is still allowed to be part of "The West." As in you can't find milk any other way in Ontario except cardboard for quart cartons, whose shape is already optimized for shipping.

        Rigidity: You buy a 99c molded plaster pitcher that holds the thing. You put your bag in, slap the bottom of the container on the counter to seat it firmly, and then use a little cutter to remove the corner of the bag. Some of the pitchers even have a litt

    • No Need to cut a corner, at least here, there is a capped nozzle stuck on one end.

  • New song (Score:5, Funny)

    by Darinbob (1142669) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @09:46PM (#40095899)

    Super Hydrophobalistic Condimental Bottles,
    The glass inside remains so clean just like the twelve apostles,
    From them ketchup flows so fast you'll need to use some throttles,
    Super Hydrophobalistic Condimental Bottles!

    (to the tune of...)

  • Recyclability? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dacarr (562277) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @10:11PM (#40096053) Homepage Journal
    So what would this do to the ability to recycle the materials? A general rule is that recyclers want you to clean glass (rightly so, as ketchup turns to pretty much carbon at the 2000 deg F required to melt glass, thus spoiling the recyc batch), but what would this do under intense heat?
    • It would spawn kittens.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      To clean glass of food remains, it's usually stored in a big pile outdoors to let nature do its job. A good reason to clean glass for recycling is that it doesn't start to smell so badly while waiting to be taken to the glass container.

  • I would love to see sardines cans with a BPA-free liner where the fish scoots right out without having to bang the can around upside down while spraying stinky fish oil all over the counter-top.

    The last large sardine in my can today had such incredible BPA suction I had to pitchfork it out. Even after I slid it around, it still didn't peel off when inverted.

    Health studies usually report that the benefits of high omega-3 diets outweigh the notorious toxins also contained.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      what about all the salt in canned meat?

      dont get me wrong I LOOOOVE canned meat, but just for the fact its meat flavored salt paste and fat, so I cut that out pretty quick

  • Finally, I'll be able to get my ketchup out of the bottle.
  • I need this. You have 6 months to get it to me. I'll finally be able to break 60 mph even on sierra cement

  • Building 57(!) is an old Heinz factory

    MIT is no stranger to ketchup

  •     Why the hell would they put super rabies in condiment bottles? I already get enough froth from the damned ketchup and mustard bottles when I first use them. Stupid researchers.

  • All of that waste is product consumers buy, but can't consume. So it doesn't put off the next time they buy more. There's no way condiment bottlers are going to use this invention that means you'll buy replacements less often.

  • John Smith was tragically killed today, smothered by ketchup after applying more than the recommended force. Manufacturers of the superhydrophobic coating for condiment bottles will now be required to place warnings directing users to face the spout of the bottles away from their faces. The Department of Defense is currently investigating resurrecting the Land Warrior initiative, based around these bottles.
  • ...a requirement in the manufacture of White House intern uniforms.

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:27AM (#40097729) Journal

    It could make cleaning less frequent and onerous.

    If it were dishwasher safe could be used on dishes and cookware.

    I'm sure there must be a million applications for a durable, super hydrophobic coating. Ship hulls, runners on skates and skis, hell if it's durable (and safe enough) why not a spray on for a once a year application at your dentist? Who knows what other applications coud be practical depending on its exact properties (think, ink jet printers, coating the particles in e-ink displays to make them "spin" faster, micro fluidics for lab equipment, etc.). There are a LOT of technologies that use water/fluids in some way.

  • We've found a way that you can make really expensive bottles which let people use all of the ketchup, so they won't have to buy as much from you. As a bonus, it screw up plastic recycling. So, how many million units can we sign you up for?
  • by pev (2186) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @08:22AM (#40098589) Homepage

    Why is no one discussing water park slides?!

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