The Non-Melting Ice!
Researchers from the University of California, Davis have developed a cooling material that could greatly impact cold chain operations.
The new material consists of 90% water and no plastic. This means it can self-dissolve in nature at the end of its life -perhaps its most important feature. With a soft, jelly-like texture, the material changes colour with the change in temperature and hardens when cooled. It can be designed and cut in any desired shape and size.
Its cooling feature lasts up to 13 hours and when it warms, it can be cleaned with water and frozen again for next use. Researchers plan to eventually use recycled agricultural waste or by-product as the cooling material. “We want to make sure this is sustainable,” said Luxin Wang, from the University’s Department of Food Science and Technology.
The inspiration came when Wang noticed the massive amounts of ice used at fish-processing plants. Besides the incredible waste of energy, Wang thought the melting ice also poses a risk as a medium for pathogens that can cause cross-contamination among food products processed at the facility or go down the water drains. Mould growth is a common problem in plastic-coated ice packs used for similar purposes. The new material will also eliminate this risk. For the same reason, it is predicted to reduce the amount of food wasted due to spoiling.
The “artificial” ice can be reused a dozen times, and after that, it may be disposed of or transferred to compost processing facilities along with other organic wastes. With the help of this new material, the researchers aim to reduce both water consumption and the overall environmental impact of cold-chain food-processing.
- 1. https://phys.org/news/2021-11-ice-cube-doesnt-mold.html
- 2. https://www.ucdavis.edu/food/news/uc-davis-researchers-develop-ice-cube-doesnt-melt-or-grow-mold