Article courtesy of Melissa Goldin| April 14, 2014| Mashable.com| Shared as educational material
No water bottle? No problem.
Ooho, a biodegradable, water balloon-like blob, could soon be a cheap, environmentally friendly alternative to the ubiquitous plastic bottle.
Up to nearly 50 percent of 2.4 million tons of discarded plastic comes from plastic water bottles, according to the Clean Air Council If eventually mass produced, Ooho could go a long way toward reducing this waste.
“The reality is that every day more, when we drink water we throw away a plastic bottle,” Rodrigo García González, one of three London-based industrial design students behind the project, told Mashable. “This act of consumerism reflects the society in which we live. Ooho proposes an alternative.”
Trapped inside two layers of membrane made of brown algae and calcium chloride, water is released from the glob of liquid when its casing is punctured. The membrane can then either be eaten or thrown away, similar to the skin of an apple.
Though it’s not as sturdy as a water bottle, García González said a collection of smaller Oohos could be kept in a bigger one with a thicker membrane to prevent unwanted spills (and so that not all of the water has to be consumed in one fell swoop) and its double-membrane design would keep the product hygienic (you could peel back the first one and sip from the second). It may not be the neatest way to hydrate, as seen in this Fast Company video, but according to García González smaller Oohos will be easier to sip without getting wet.
The container has a creative commons license to encourage innovation and, with the right materials and know-how anyone could, in theory, create one in their own home.
Ooho was inspired by similar cases of membranes found in nature such as egg yolks. The container is assembled using spherification — a technique that shapes liquid into spheres and roots going back to the 1940s. In an effort to keep the final product as large as possible and to keep the components of the membrane separate, the water is frozen during this process.
WikiPearl, a new product sold only in four Massachusetts-based Whole Foods, stretches the limits of packaging using similar methods. The spherical finger food can contain anything from ice cream to a cosmopolitan in a bite-sized parcel. Molecular gastronomy, popularized by chefs such as Spaniard Ferràn Adria and Englishman Heston Blumenthal, is a controversial method of cooking that uses similar techniques in its experimentation with the physical and chemical abilities of ingredients.