Ordinary ice cubes can only be used once, because they then melt. The food industry consumes an extreme amount of ice every year to keep food cool. A group of researchers from the University of California, Davis have produced a new type of eco-friendly ice cube. These are jelly ice cubes that contain no plastics and never melt.
How did the idea come about?
Prof. Wang saw how much ice was used in fish-processing plants, noticing that there was cross-contamination that occurred due to meltwater and seeing how this could spread to the other products. As a result, the science team began working on ice cubes that would not melt or contaminate water sources. Jelly ice cubes are compostable and antimicrobial. Their use prevents cross-contamination of food.
Prof. Wang explained, “The amount of ice used by these fish-processing sites is massive. We need to control the pathogens. ”
Gang Sun, the professor from the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, shared, “When ice melts, it’s not reusable. We thought we could make a so-called solid ice to serve as a cooling medium and be reusable. ”
Reusable jelly ice cubes
These cubes are made up of 90% water, the rest are components that allow the cubes to maintain their structure. The cubes are soft to the touch and change color according to the ambient temperature.
Prof. Sun added, “You can use it for 13 hours for cooling, collect it, rinse it with water and put it in the freezer to freeze again for the next use.”
These unique cubes do not only have to be in the shape of cubes, but can be made in any other shape. It is possible to use them repeatedly and thus significantly reduce the cost of storing food in the cold. The research group applied for a patent last year. The goal of the researchers is to make ice cubes produced using recycled agricultural waste or other by-products in the future.
An ecological alternative to traditional ice
The new types of cubes can withstand a load of 22 pounds without changing shape. Just wash the cubes and then use them again. It is an ecological alternative to ice. The use of jelly cubes will reduce water consumption and adverse environmental impact. With these cubes, a stable temperature is easily reached and food spoilage is prevented. The research study was published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal, Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.
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