In the future, rehydrating on-the-go could have people popping a gelatinous edible ‘bubble’ that looks like floating water into their mouths. A biodegradable and sustainable drink packaging made from algae called ‘Ooho’ has been developed by a team of London-based engineers. The first prototype of the edible water bottle was created in 2014 as an alternative to plastic packaging.
The gelatinous sphere contains one portion of water and is meant to be consumed. There is a significant market potential for this type of packaging in the near future especially with outdoor events such as festivals and marathons; runner who want a quick and refreshing drink can quickly grab one of these before continuing on with the race.
‘Ooho’ was created to provide packaging that would be sustainable and minimises the carbon footprint of plastic packaging. The bubble-like material could replace the increasing number of smaller bottles which are consumed on-the-go.
The product is made from seaweed extract using gelification and is tasteless, although flavours could be incorporated to add variety for consumers. Gelification is a technique used in cooking that turns a liquid substance into a gelatinous form.
The produce is made by dipping a ball of ice in calcium chloride and brown algae extract—this forms a membrane that holds the ice as it melts until it returns to room temperature. The water is encapsulated in a double gelatinous membrane which is made from food ingredients. The inner layer can be consumed instead of being discarded and the outer layer is meant to be peeled—this outer layer keeps the inner one clean.
The drink packaging is simple to produce, hygienic, biodegradable, edible and cheap—costing only $US0.02 per unit. The gelatinous packaging is licensed as creative commons, which means everyone has access to information on how to produce it and can make it in their own homes.
As the packaging does not have a lid or any way to seal it upon breaking the inner layer, the portions are typically small and meant to be consumed whole. Sizes can be customised to specific applications, i.e. marathons might see sizes at 50 ml, and at cafes it might be 150 ml.
These edible bottles can be made on-site, which eliminates the need to transport the product over long distances. At events, this process could be done from the back of a food truck, with each ball of water produced in seconds.