Scientists in London have unveiled a potentially game-changing invention in the form of a new edible water bottle. Led by Rodrigo García González (the inventor of the Hop! robo-suitcase), the team from Imperial College London believe they have found an alternative, known as Ooho, to the nearly 50 billion plastic bottles Americans use each year.
The process actually begins with the contents of the "bottle," frozen in a sphere. That sphere is then dipped in dipped in a calcium chloride solution, which forms a gelatinous membrane around the frozen fluid not unlike the skin of an orange. The "bottle" is then dipped in a solution of brown algae extract to reinforce the structure. "The main point in manipulating the water as solid ice during the encapsulation is to make it possible to get bigger spheres and allow the calcium and algae to stay exclusively in the membrane," González told Smithsonian Magazine.
The result, when all the frozen contents have melted, resembles a jellyfish or clear dumpling. The technique, known as spherification, has a strange history. Originally developed by Unilever as a drug-delivery system in the 1950s, it was transformed into a culinary craze by pioneering Spanish chef Ferran Adrià. Today, it's used to create everything from fake caviar to the little juice balls in bubble tea. You can even spherify alcohol if you're so inclined.
González and his team admit there are still a few kinks to work out, like the fact that the container can't be closed once the membrane is pierced. Testers weren't crazy about eating the jelly membrane, either. "The jelly texture around [the bottles] is something we are not used to yet. Not all of the reactions were positive," he says. "Some people say that [the bottles] are like breast implants."
See for yourself. Would you carry around a few of Oohos if it meant a drastic reduction in the number of plastic bottles polluting our environment?