Ice cubes that don’t melt – researchers are developing “jelly ice cubes” that are sustainable and do not form mold

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New Delhi: Can you imagine an ice cube that won’t melt or mold? Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have developed a novel cooling cube that can revolutionize the way in which food is refrigerated and shipped while keeping it fresh without the need for conventional cooling methods such as traditional cold packs.

The research was recently published in the American Chemical Society’s journal Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. The researchers applied for a patent for the design and concept in July.

The cooling cubes, referred to as “jelly ice cubes” by the researchers, are plastic-free, do not melt, have antimicrobial properties and prevent cross-contamination, according to the study.

Gang Sun, one of the study’s authors, said the researchers wondered if they could synthesize something called solid ice, which acts as a cooling medium and is reusable, according to a statement from the University of California, Davis. This idea is indeed groundbreaking because if ice is made from just water, it will melt and will not be reusable. In addition, the jelly ice cubes do not form mold, according to the study.

According to the study, the cooling cubes developed by the researchers contain more than 90 percent water and other components to maintain and stabilize the structure. Another interesting property of the cooling cubes is that they change color depending on the temperature. The cubes feel soft like a gelatin dessert, according to the study.

Reusable and flexible cooling cubes

The cubes are reusable and can be trimmed or cut to any shape and size you want, said Jihan Zou, one of the researchers, according to the statement.

He added that the jelly ice cube can be used to cool for 13 hours, and can also be collected, rinsed with water, and placed in the freezer to refreeze for next use.

Luxin Wang, a researcher with the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis, said they wanted to make sure the cube is sustainable.

Wang saw that a large amount of ice is used in fish processing plants and that meltwater can spread a lot of cross-contamination between products or down the drain, the statement said. This has encouraged the researchers to work on the coolant cubes, the statement said.

Wang said the amount of ice used by fish processing sites is enormous and that it is important to control the pathogens. Plastic ice bags that are used with school meals for children and those with shipping packaging also often get mold.

The newly developed ice cubes can withstand a weight of up to 22 pounds, i.e. just under 10 kilograms, without deforming, according to the study. The cubes can be reused a dozen times and can be disposed of in the trash or garden waste. A quick wash with water or diluted bleach is enough to clean the cubes, according to the study.

Alternative to ice cream?

The jelly ice cubes serve as a good alternative to conventional ice and have the potential to reduce water consumption and environmental pollution, according to the study. The cubes provide stable temperatures to reduce food spoilage and can be ideal for meal preparation businesses, as well as shipping companies and food manufacturers who need to keep food cool.

Water consumption in the food supply chain and food waste can be greatly reduced by using these jelly ice cubes. According to the study, microbial contamination can also be controlled.


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