One of the most frustrating feelings in the world is struggling to get the last bit of ketchup out of the bottle or the last squirt of toothpaste out of the tube.
Now there’s a coating called LiquiGlide that can keep the inside of a container permanently wet and allow its contents to easily slide out. Look how easy it is get to mayonnaise out of a bottle coated in LiquiGlide:
And it’s even more impressive when you compare it to something that is not coated in LiquiGlide. In this example, the non LiquiGlide detergent cap is on the left and the LiquiGlide detergent cap is on the right:
LiquiGlide was originally created in 2012 by a professor, Kripa Varanasi and his grad students at MIT. They have formed their own LiquiGlide company, and it’s now getting some traction among consumer products.
The reason it’s so difficult to get things like glue and condiments out of their containers is because they are viscous liquids that can’t flow without a powerful push. When these kinds of liquids flow through a pipe or a bottle, the layer of liquids flow at different speeds and create friction and viscosity. The layer at the very center of the container is flowing fastest and the layer that is closest to the container sticks to its surface.
The idea behind LiquiGlide is to create an extra layer between the container and the liquid that will help the liquid slide out easier. LiquiGlide is a liquid coating that binds much more strongly to textured surfaces than to liquids, so when it’s painted onto the inside of a container, the liquid can flow freely over it without creating friction and viscosity.
“We’re not defying physics, but effectively, we are,” one of the MIT grad students, Dave Smith, told the New York Times.
So what’s in LiquiGlide? It depends on the liquid and containers that each batch is made for. For any food containers, the coating is made from edible materials like plants.
Other than solving a universally frustrating problem, LiquiGlide also cuts down on waste. You end up wasting less glue, paint, condiments, etc., because it’s much easier to get out the last few stubborn squeezes. According to a consumer report from 2009, some people end up throwing out up to a quarter of the lotion in a bottle, 16% of detergent, and 15% of condiments because it’s too much of a pain to coax out the layers that stick to the container.
However, the original intent behind LiquiGlide was not to make it easier to have ketchup with your fries. Varanasi was thinking about industry applications like more efficient oil pumping. For now, the company has found success in consumer products, but it will continue pursuing industry application ideas too.
Elmers Products, Inc. is on board and has already signed a contract with LiquiGlide. An easier to squeeze mayonnaise bottle might be coming out this year, and easier to squeeze toothpaste could be here in 2017. For some reason, ketchup companies have shown little interest. But just look at that flawless pouring:
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