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Ooho: the edible bottle

A mineral water bottle? Don’t throw it away… eat it! A research team has produced Ooho, an elastic and eatable bottle which may well herald a revolution in packaging.

November 2014

A mineral water bottle? Don’t throw it away… eat it! A research team has produced Ooho, an elastic and eatable bottle which may well herald a revolution in packaging. IMA Lab


Three young creative scientists working in a start-up company in London have developed a material for holding liquids which is not only biodegradable, but actually edible.
The container made of this material — called Ooho — was awarded the Lexus Design Award 2014 and was publically presented in Milan during the Milan Design Week.

Plastic is the most frequently used material for many food and drink products, especially liquids. But plastic is also one of the least biodegradable materials in existence, and is highly pollutant in environmental terms: this why great efforts are going into research around the world for ways to recycle it and even to eliminate it entirely from the market.

The process used to create Ooho is based on "spherification", a popular gastronomic technique which allows chefs to create an almost solid containing form for certain foods. This technique, applied to molecular gastronomy (made famous especially by the Catalan chef Ferran Adrià) makes it possible to create spheres — or other shapes, such as ravioli — with a fairly robust exterior husk, to contain liquid material, thus providing highly particular sensations to the palate.

“Liquid forms drops because the liquid exhibits surface tension” — explain Ooho's creators Rodrigo García Gonzalez, Pierre Paslier and Guillaume Couch. “Bounded completely or almost completely by free surfaces. Ooho replicates this behavior, coating the water with an edible membrane of algae."

The process is actually relatively simple: a frozen ball of water is endowed with a gelatinous layer of “skin”, by dipping it into a calcium chloride solution. This ball is then soaked in another solution made from brown algae extract, thus encapsulating the ice in a second membrane and reinforcing the structure.
Personalized packaging labels can be added between the two layers with adhesive, and these can be edible too, if they are made from rice paper, for example.

“It’s a new packaging concept that proposes an alternative to the ubiquitous plastic bottle” — say the three young inventors — “and is simple, cheap, resistant, hygienic, biodegradable and even edible.”

The team created thousands of prototypes as they slowly worked their way towards the completed product.However, Ooho does still have some teething problems, as the membrane is no thicker than a fruit skin, which makes transporting the object more complicated than carrying a regular bottle of water.
“This is a problem we're trying to address through the use of a double container” — explains Rodrigo García.
“The idea is that we can pack several individual edible Oohos into a bigger Ooho container to make a thicker and more resistant membrane.”

And so their research continues. This makes us all the more hopeful that before too long we may finally see less plastic bottles strewn in parks or on beaches, and also that this new material may stimulate both scientific and gastronomic creativity… thinking up bottle tastes to suit the flavors of their contents!
 

References:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2590695/The-end-water-bottle-Edible-algae-balloon-cut-plastic-waste.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/news/ooho-the-edible-water-bottle-with-a-jellyfishlike-skin-9290429.html