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Scientists find slippery solution to ketchup conundrum

Friday, June 01, 2012 - 02:06

June 1 - Researchers at MIT have developed a super slippery coating that will finally liberate sticky condiments from their stubbornly resistant containers. The coating's chemical make-up is a secret, but it could finally bring an end to the frustration that afflicts ketchup lovers all over the world. Ben Gruber reports.

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For generations, frustrated ketchup lovers have battled to extract the delicious gooey sauce from their bottles. But finally, after more than 130 years, the bottles may have met their match. Kripa Varanasi and his team at MIT have developed a coating that allows ketchup and other sticky condiments to flow out of their bottles like water. (SOUNDBITE) (English) KRIPA VARANASI, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, MIT, SAYING: "We call it a structured liquid coating and by that what we mean is that it is not a liquid and not a solid." So if it's not a liquid and not a solid....what is it.. and how does it work.? Just like the Heinz ketchup company, Varanasi is keeping his recipe secret for now. But he does concede that he's figured out a way to stabilise a slippery liquid solution into a sprayable solid form. Varanasi says that the solution is made up of a combination of organic materials already approved of by the Food and Drug Administration - making it safe to use with edible products. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RAJEEV DHIMAN, RESEARCHER, MIT, SAYING: "Sauces alone account for some 17 billion dollars in market and if each bottle had our coating then we would save at least one million tonnes of food that is being thrown out because of being stuck in these bottles. So I think there is a lot of impact here." Rajeev Dhiman helped develop the coating. He says that it could eventually be used to improve efficiency in all kinds of industries, such as the energy sector. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RAJEEV DHIMAN, RESEARCHER, MIT, SAYING: "We have these thousands of kilometres of pipeline carrying crude oil or gas. So you could actually reduce the power to pump that gas over such a long distance by a significant amount." But, for now, both Dhiman and Varanasi are content at being the champions of ketchup lovers the world over. Ben Gruber, Reuters.

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Scientists find slippery solution to ketchup conundrum

Friday, June 01, 2012 - 02:06