New Invention Could Solve Tiny (But Annoying) Problem

Photo: Courtesy of Elmer's.
Sometimes, science solves big problems — with a new antibiotic or birth control pill, for example. Sometimes, though, it saves you from buying a new bottle of your favorite moisturizer when there's still a little bit left. A new company founded by two scientists from MIT has invented a way to make sticky liquids flow freely from their bottles; this week, that invention is one step closer to drugstore shelves.

Elmer’s Products announced Monday that it had made a licensing deal with the founders of LiquiGlide, the makers of special compounds created to help speed up everything from applying that moisturizer to putting ketchup on fries.

The company was founded by Kripa Vanasi, PhD, a professor at MIT, and Dave Smith, a graduate student. The products the company plans to create “are made by combining a textured, solid layer with a liquid to create a permanently wet, slippery coating that enables liquids to slide effortlessly,” Smith tells Refinery29. According to tech website BetaBoston, LiquiGlide received $7 million in funding and moved to a new office and lab space earlier in March.

Is this new invention too good to be true? After all, Teflon pans were once the height of high-tech in kitchenware, until scientists discovered that the nonstick coating can dissolve at high temperatures. But, Smith says, coatings for different products will use different materials, “including many foods that people eat every day.” This also means, as The Boston Globe reports, that the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have to sign off on those combinations.

Even if these coatings don’t make it as far as ketchup and honey bottles, they could still cut down on waste in household products like shampoo and lotion. “Each year, millions of tons of wasted viscous products are thrown away because consumers can’t get the contents out of the packaging,” Smith says. “We help them eliminate waste by allowing products to completely and easily evacuate.”

A series of 2009 tests by Consumer Reports found that people threw away up to 25% of their bottles of lotion. In 2012, Americans threw away almost 29 million tons of plastic and 8.4 million tons of glass, numbers the creators of LiquiGlide say the new invention could slash through lower packaging and shipping costs.

LiquiGlide-coated products could start appearing in stores by late 2015.
Photo: Courtesy of Elmer's.
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