No plastic and does not melt

Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a new type of cooling cube that could revolutionize the way food is kept cold and shipped cool without relying on ice or traditional cooling packs.

These plastic-free “jelly ice cubes” are non-melting, compostable and antimicrobial, and prevent cross-contamination.

“When ice melts, it is not reusable,” said Gang Sun, a professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. “We thought we could make a so-called solid ice to act as a cooling medium and be reusable.”

Cooling Cubes contain over 90% water and other components to retain and stabilize the structure. They are soft to the touch like a gelatin dessert and change color depending on the temperature.

Reusable and flexible

These reusable cubes can be designed or cut to any shape and size needed, said Jiahan Zou, a graduate student Ph.D. who has worked on the project for two years.

RELATED: Design students are using art to reinvent plastic recycling by creating lamps, seat covers, and more.

“You can use it for 13 hours to cool it down, pick it up, rinse it with water, and put it in the freezer to freeze it again for the next use,” Sun added.

A patent for the design and concept was filed in July.

Researchers eventually hope to use waste or recycled agricultural by-products as cooling material.

“We want to make sure this is sustainable,” said Luxin Wang, an associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology.

Fish market sewage and moldy blocks of ice spurred the idea

Researchers began working on the coolant cubes after Wang saw the amount of ice used in fish processing plants and the cross-contamination that melt water could spread between products or into sewers. .

“The amount of ice used by these fish processing sites is enormous,” Wang said. “We have to control the pathogens.”

Sun also lamented mold found in plastic ice packs used with school lunches for children and frequently found in shipping packages.

CONTINUED: This ‘floating continent’ could collect and recycle plastic from the ocean in the future

Early testing has shown the cubes can support up to 22 pounds without losing shape. They can be reused a dozen times – just a quick wash with water or diluted bleach – then thrown in the trash or yard waste.

Alternative to ice cream

Jelly ice cubes offer an alternative to traditional ice and could potentially reduce water consumption and environmental impact. They also provide stable temperatures to reduce food spoilage and could be ideal for meal prep businesses, shipping companies, and food producers who need to keep food fresh.

The app could potentially reduce water consumption in the food supply chain and food waste by controlling microbial contaminations. The research was published in the American Chemical Society’s journal, Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

(LOOK the video of this story below.)

Source: UC Davis

Melt bad news into these social feeds; SHARE this innovative design…

Comments are closed.