It's the world's biggest non-problemic problem: getting the last bit of ketchup out of the jar. Ketchup is so viscous, and it seems so eager to stick to glass and plastic. But leave it to students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to solve the greatest non-issues of our generation: A team of engineers have designed the perfect condiment bottle — one that ketchup simply cannot stick to.
The secret is in a futuristic substance known as "LiquiGlide," a non-toxic, FDA-approved coating that can be applied to the interior of bottles. According to MIT PhD candidate Dave Smith, it's "kind of a structured liquid — it's rigid like a solid, but it's lubricated like a liquid." Regardless of what the bottle is constructed of, liquid or plastic, ketchup will flow out of it nearly effortlessly.
It seems like ketchup sticking to the inside of bottles is a more compelling problem than many realize — a rival team at nearby Harvard University have been working on similar, plant-derived, ketchup bottle technology. And the idea of a friction-less ketchup bottle caught enough people's imaginations to win the audience choice award at the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition.
Ending bottle friction is a noble goal. Any technology to get ketchup out of bottles easier could make a serious dent in helping reduce food waste in a $33 billion condiment industry. Smith explains that the new bottles "could save one million tons of food from being thrown out every year."
Interestingly enough, LiquiGlide wasn't initially designed to be used for ketchup — the original idea had the coating being used as an anti-icing coating, or a pipe coating that might help reduce oil and gas clogs. But as Smith explains, "most of these other applications have a much longer time to market; we realized we could make this coating for bottles that is pretty much ready. I mean, it is ready."
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