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Wednesday, May 3, 2023

is that end of water bottle ~ Ooho the edible algae balloon !!

Algae (Latin for "seaweed") are a very large and diverse group of eukaryotic organisms, ranging from unicellular genera such as Chlorella and the diatoms to multicellular forms such as the giant kelp, a large brown alga that may grow up to 50 meters in length. Most are autotrophic and lack many of the distinct cell and tissue types found in land plants such as stomata, xylem and phloem. The largest and most complex marine algae are called seaweeds, while the most complex freshwater forms are the Charophyta, a division of algae that includes Spirogyra and the stoneworts.

Modern youngsters may not know that in schools, students used to drink water from cement water tanks through rusted iron pipes, lined up orderly.  In some there would be no tumblers or receptacles,  one would  open the tab / lift the nozzle, keep one’s hand in a manner that falling water would find its way to the mouth…… perhaps none would have imagined that water would be ‘crore industry – with multi-brands’ ruling the market…life has changed since !! 

Packaged water called ‘mineral water’  rose to become  is a hot selling commodity – with Multinationals and big Corporates having their own brands and another chunk being garnered by local companies calling themselves ‘packaged water providers’.  The  packaged water that we get in bottles / cans of various capacities…… are  not even chemically treated water containing any minerals ~ people are finicky, most cannot drink water in hotels, restaurants and public places but buy mineral water bottles – some cannot survive without specified brands.   Apart from the money in circulation in this business – this also generates loads of plastic trash seen clogging everywhere and causing hazard ! In Mar 2014, MailOnline posted an interesting article on whether ‘edible algae balloon’ could cut the plastic waste and cause the end of water bottle !!

To solve the rising number of plastic bottles filling up landfills around the world, a trio of designers  created an alternative - a container made from an edible algae balloon.  Called Ooho, the spheres can be produced in different sizes, hygienically protect the liquid inside, and cost just 2 cents (less than a penny) each. The design was  crowned one of 12 winners of the second annual Lexus Design Award in 2014  and is due to go on sale in Boston later.   

Ooho, pictured, has a double gelatinous membrane created using sodium alginate and calcium chloride. The spheres are created using gelification - a technique used in cooking to turn liquids into gel - and its creators said the final package is 'cheap, hygienic and biodegradable'.   The inventors experimented with various spherification techniques, using different ingredients and proportions, before settling on the Ooho final ‘recipe’.

Packaging labels can be added to the Ooho, between the two layers, without adhesive, and are edible too, if they’re made from rice paper, for example.  'Liquid forms drops because the liquid exhibits surface tension,’ said Ooho's creators Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez, Pierre Paslier and Guillaume Couche, ‘Bounded completely or almost completely by free surfaces.

 ‘Ooho replicates this behaviour, encircling the water in an edible membrane of algae. It is a new way of packaging that proposes an alternative to the plastic bottle.’ According to its manufacturers, the  final package is ‘simple, resistant, hygienic, biodegradable and even edible.’

Around 50 billion water bottles are produced each year, and many end up in landfills.  The Ooho could prove to be  an alternative to these bottles in a bid to reduce waste and the impact plastic production has on the environment. 

Kathi (the Knife), directed by Murugadoss had  Vijay in dual role.  In  FB & social media, people  ridiculed the role of the hero with degree in  hydrology from the arid village of Thanoothu in Tirunelveli district  discovering groundwater under some lands of the village which could be used as an irrigation source. The story was about  MNC  cheating the villagers in to selling their lands and the hero fights for the cause.  People criticized Vijay for appearing in Coke advertisements but opposing a similar thing on scene – one should actually appreciate for trying to do something, even if it on surreal silver screen.   

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

4th Mar 2015.

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