Professor Varanasi’s Condiment-Bottle Coating Gives Waste the Slip
by Alissa Mallinson
The Varanasi Research Group, led by Associate Professor Kripa Varanasi, took a break from researching super slippery and super non-wetting coatings for equipment such as steam turbines and airplanes to present their newest invention at this year’s $100K Competition: LiquiGlide, a nontoxic, nonstick, super slippery coating for condiment bottles.
Made from food materials, LiquiGlide is easy to apply to food packaging and prevents stubborn condiments from sticking to the inside of the bottle. For food sauce companies—and their customers—easy removal of condiments is a constant challenge. Most people have experienced the frustration that comes with struggling to expel a condiment like ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise with furious shaking, messy rummaging, or pure brute force. Now, a simple tilt of the hand sends condiments sliding out.
“Our research group is mainly focused on big issues in energy, water, and transportation,” says Varanasi, “but we found that bottles are no small thing, with the worldwide condiment market comprising about 17 billion bottles.”
With a market that big, small additional costs such as the 20-cent charge customers pay for the special cap on upside-down bottles can add up to billions of dollars. Just as important, eliminating those special caps can reduce the need for plastic by about 25,000 tons. LiquiGlide can save food by ensuring that none is wasted and increase recycling rates by removing all food remnants.
The group was named runner-up in the competition for LiquiGlide and easily took home the Audience Choice Award, along with the $2,000 that went with it, but it’s the media frenzy that followed that garnered them so much attention. The coating was featured in NPR, ABC News, the Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, and CNN, among many others, in the week leading up to Memorial Day.
Along with Professor Kripa Varanasi, the LiquiGlide team is J. David Smith, Christopher J. Love, Adam Paxson, Brian Solomon, and Rajeev Dhiman. For more information, visit liqui-glide.com