Published On: Tue, Jun 30th, 2015

LiquiGlide Nonstick Coating Coming to Consumer Goods

Ketchup slides out of a bottle that’s been coated with LiquiGlide.

You won’t have to shake, clap and hurl those final drops of condiments out of a bottle anymore. LiquiGlide, a liquid-impregnated cloaking that acts as a sleazy separator between a aspect and a gelatinous liquid, has usually been protected to a vital consumer-goods company.

The days of wasting condiments — and other products — that hang stubbornly to a sides of their bottles might be gone, interjection to MIT spinout LiquiGlide, that has protected a nonstick cloaking to a vital consumer-goods company.

Developed in 2009 by MIT’s Kripa Varanasi and David Smith, LiquiGlide is a liquid-impregnated cloaking that acts as a sleazy separator between a aspect and a gelatinous liquid. Applied inside a seasoning bottle, for instance, a cloaking clings henceforth to a sides, while permitting a seasoning to slip off completely, with no residue.

In 2012, amidst a flurry of media courtesy following LiquiGlide’s entrance in MIT’s $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, Smith and Varanasi founded a startup — with assistance from a Institute — to commercialize a coating.

Today, Norwegian consumer-goods writer Orkla has sealed a chartering agreement to use a LiquiGlide’s cloaking for mayonnaise products sole in Germany, Scandinavia, and several other European nations. This comes on a heels of another chartering deal, with Elmer’s, announced in March.

But this is usually a beginning, says Varanasi, an associate highbrow of automatic engineering who is now on LiquiGlide’s house of directors and arch scholarship advisor. The startup, that usually entered a consumer-goods market, is courting deals with countless producers of foods, beauty supplies, and domicile products. “Our coatings can work with a whole operation of products, since we can tailor any cloaking to accommodate a specific mandate of any application,” Varanasi says.

Learn a scholarship behind LiquiGlide’s henceforth soppy cloaking and see it in action. Video: Melanie Gonick/MIT

Apart from providing assets and convenience, LiquiGlide aims to revoke a startling volume of squandered products — generally food — that hang to enclosure sides and get tossed. For instance, in 2009 Consumer Reports found that adult to 15 percent of bottled condiments are eventually thrown away. Keeping bottles clean, Varanasi adds, could also drastically cut a use of H2O and energy, as good as a costs compared with rinsing bottles before recycling. “It has outrageous intensity in terms of vicious sustainability,” he says.

Varanasi says LiquiGlide aims subsequent to tackle buildup in oil and gas pipelines, that can means gnawing and clogs that revoke flow. Future uses, he adds, could embody coatings for medical inclination such as catheters, deicing roofs and aeroplane wings, and improving production and routine efficiency. “Interfaces are ubiquitous,” he says. “We wish to be everywhere.”

Liquid-impregnated surfaces

LiquiGlide was creatively grown while Smith worked on his connoisseur investigate in Varanasi’s investigate group. Smith and Varanasi were meddlesome in preventing ice buildup on aeroplane surfaces and methane hydrate buildup in oil and gas pipelines.

Some initial work was on superhydrophobic surfaces, that trap pockets of atmosphere and naturally repel water. But both researchers found that these surfaces don’t, in fact, strew each bit of liquid. During proviso transitions — when fog turns to liquid, for instance — H2O droplets precipitate within little gaps on surfaces, and usually accumulate. This leads to detriment of anti-icing properties of a surface. “Something that is nonwetting to perceivable drops does not sojourn nonwetting for little drops,” Varanasi says.

Inspired by a work of researcher David Quéré, of ESPCI in Paris, on sleazy “hemisolid-hemiliquid” surfaces, Varanasi and Smith invented henceforth soppy “liquid-impregnated surfaces” — coatings that dont have such little gaps. The coatings include of textured plain element that traps a glass liniment by capillary and intermolecular forces. The cloaking wicks by a textured plain surface, sticking henceforth underneath a product, permitting a product to slip off a aspect easily; other materials can’t enter a gaps or excommunicate a coating. “One can contend that it’s a self-lubricating surface,” Varanasi says.

Mixing and relating a materials, however, is a difficult process, Varanasi says. Liquid components of a coating, for instance, contingency be concordant with a chemical and earthy properties of a gummy product, and generally immiscible. The plain element contingency form a textured structure while adhering to a container. And a cloaking can’t spoil a contents: Foodstuffs, for instance, need safe, succulent materials, such as plants and insoluble fibers.

To assistance name ingredients, Smith and Varanasi grown a simple systematic beliefs and algorithms that calculate how a glass and plain cloaking materials, and a product, as good as a geometry of a aspect structures will all correlate to find a optimal “recipe.”

Today, LiquiGlide develops coatings for clients and licenses a recipes to them. Included are instructions that fact a materials, equipment, and routine compulsory to emanate and request a cloaking for their specific needs. “The state of a cloaking we finish adult with depends wholly on a properties of a product we wish to slip over a surface,” says Smith, now LiquiGlide’s CEO.

Having researched materials for hundreds of opposite gelatinous liquids over a years — from peanut butter to wanton oil to blood — LiquiGlide also has a database of optimal mixture for a algorithms to lift from when customizing recipes. “Given any new product we wish LiquiGlide for, we can 0 in on a resolution that meets all mandate necessary,” Varanasi says.

MIT: A lab for entrepreneurs

For years, Smith and Varanasi toyed around with blurb applications for LiquiGlide. But in 2012, with assistance from MIT’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, LiquiGlide went from lab to marketplace in a matter of months.

Initially a suspicion was to move coatings to a oil and gas industry. But one day, in early 2012, Varanasi saw his mother struggling to flow sugar from a container. “And we thought, ‘We have a resolution for that,’” Varanasi says.

The concentration afterwards became consumer packaging. Smith and Varanasi took a suspicion by several entrepreneurship classes — such as 6.933 (Entrepreneurship in Engineering: The Founder’s Journey) — and MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service and Innovation Teams, where tyro teams investigate a blurb intensity of MIT technologies.

“I did flattering most each final thing we could do,” Smith says. “Because we have such a shining network here during MIT, we suspicion we should take advantage of it.”

That May, Smith, Varanasi, and several MIT students entered LiquiGlide in a MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, earning a Audience Choice Award — and a inhabitant spotlight. A video of ketchup shifting out of a LiquiGlide-coated bottle went viral. Numerous media outlets picked adult a story, while hundreds of companies reached out to Varanasi to buy a coating. “My phone didn’t stop ringing, my website crashed for a month,” Varanasi says. “It usually went crazy.”

That summer, Smith and Varanasi took their startup suspicion to MIT’s Global Founders’ Skills Accelerator program, that introduced them to a strong network of internal investors and helped them build a plain business plan. Soon after, they lifted income from family and friends, and won $100,000 during a MassChallenge Entrepreneurship Competition.

When LiquiGlide Inc. launched in Aug 2012, clients were already knocking down a door. The startup chose a name series to compensate for a growth and contrast of a cloaking for a products. Within a year, LiquiGlide was cash-flow positive, and had grown from 3 to 18 employees in a stream Cambridge headquarters.

Looking back, Varanasi attributes most of LiquiGlide’s success to MIT’s innovation-based ecosystem, that promotes fast prototyping for a marketplace by investigation and collaboration. This ecosystem includes a Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation, a Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, a Venture Mentoring Service, and a Technology Licensing Office, among other initiatives. “Having a lab where we could consider about … translating a record to real-world applications, and carrying this ability to accommodate people, and rebound ideas … that whole MIT ecosystem was key,” Varanasi says.

Source: Rob Matheson, MIT News Office

Image: Courtesy of a Varanasi Research Group

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