Dec, 2021 - By SMI
Novel hydrogel ice cubes consist 90% water and 10% gelatin derived from protein, and they maintain their shape at all temperatures.
Meltwater causes microbial cross-contamination, which makes it a serious food quality and safety concern. Now to reduce the meltwater while keeping the high cooling efficiency of normal ice, a group of scientists from University of California-Davis developed a resusable, water-based ‘jelly ice cubes’ that don’t melt or grow mold on them, instead they hold their shape through all temperatures. According to the research published in the journal Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering on July 20, 2021, these plastic-free hydrogel ice cubes are anti-microbial, compostable, and they prevent cross-contamination.
According to the researchers, these reusable ice cubes are made of 90 percent water and 10 percent gelatin that is obtained from protein. The material can be cut into any size or shape as required. At room temperature, the material stays transparent and jiggly as jelly, however it obtains hard form and opaque nature when it is frozen. These cubes can be utilized to keep fresh foods cold during transport or while in storage, similar to normal ice cubes. These jelly cubes do not melt into a puddle when the ice inside them melts, unlike regular ice cubes. The water inside these jelly cubes stays inside the matrix made of hydrogel, which makes them reusable.
Moreover, each of these jelly cubes can be reused for 12 times without degradation, they just need to be simply rinsed off in diluted bleach or water in between every use. As the cubes have no synthetic compounds in them, they can be used as compost when they are discarded. Now the team is exploring new ways to use agricultural waste as a base for these cubes to make them more sustainable.
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