One way to stop the ever-growing pile of plastic water bottles in landfills? Make a bottle people can eat.
Inspired by techniques from molecular gastronomy, three London-based industrial design students created Ooho, a blob-like water container that they say is easy and cheap to make, strong, hygienic, biodegradable, and edible.
The container holds water in a double membrane using “spherification,” the technique of shaping liquids into spheres first pioneered in labs in 1946 and more recently popularized by chefs at elBulli in Spain. It works a little like an egg yolk, which also holds its shape using a thin membrane.
“We’re applying an evolved version of spherification to one of the most basic and essential elements of life–water,” says Rodrigo García González, who designed the Ooho with fellow design students Pierre Paslier and Guillaume Couche.
A compound made from brown algae and calcium chloride creates a gel around the water. “The double membrane protects the inside hygienically, and makes it possible to put labels between the two layers without any adhesive,” García explains.
While the package is being formed, the water is frozen as ice, making it possible to create a bigger sphere and keeping the ingredients in the membrane and out of the water.