When it comes to those last globs of ketchup inevitably stuck to every bottle of Heinz, most people either violently shake the container in hopes of eking out another drop or two, or perform the “secret” trick: smacking the “57” logo on the bottleâ€™s neck. But not MIT PhD candidate Dave Smith. He and a team of mechanical engineers and nano-technologists at the Varanasi Research Group have been held up in an MIT lab for the last two months addressing this common dining problem.
The result? LiquiGlide, a “super slippery” coating made up of nontoxic materials that can be applied to all sorts of food packaging—though ketchup and mayonnaise bottles might just be the substanceâ€™s first targets. Condiments may sound like a narrow focus for a group of MIT engineers, but not when you consider the impact it could have on food waste and the packaging industry. “Itâ€™s funny: Everyone is always like, ‘Why bottles? Whatâ€™s the big deal?’ But then you tell them the market for bottles—just the sauces alone is a $17 billion market,” Smith says. “And if all those bottles had our coating, we estimate that we could save about one million tons of food from being thrown out every year.”