This ketchup problem will probably be something you’ll recognize from your own experiences: the first squeeze of a bottle of ketchup often comes along with an annoying amount of water. However, you must be a massive ketchup fan to set up a project to solve the ‘ketchup problem’. Well, North Liberty High School seniors Tyler Richards and Jonathan Thompson admit that they are, and they have therefore found a way to get rid of the water inside the bottles. They have been using 3D printing techniques to solve this everyday problem.
Did you know there is a word for the process that leads to the separation of tomato paste and water? Well, there is and it’s called syneresis. The senior students listed above have now found an easy way for a proper kind of syneresis. They have designed a cap, which looks a bit like an inverted mushroom. It however stops the water from getting out of the bottle, as it stays at the bottom of the cap. The ketchup is then pushed to the top of the cap, ready to be released from the bottle. The result is that no more water loss will take place during the process, which means your burger or hotdog will solely have ketchup on it and no more slimy, drippy water.
However, it takes a lot of work to design something like this. The students made many sketches and created as many as 60 designs for this solution. They then narrowed it down to five last versions, after which they chose the final, winning solution. They 3D modelled this final design using software and they printed it out on a 3D printer. Their project was part of the so-called Project Lead The Way. This is an American program for students from elementary to high school, which uses an project-based approach to science-related subjects.
Their teacher however wasn’t convinced initially. “Our teacher wasn’t even going to let us do this idea,” said Thomson to a local TV channel. But after doing a lot of research, they managed to convince their teacher. Now the students are seeking for provisional patent, which at some point hopefully leads to a worldwide implementation of the caps. In other words: Heinz, your bottles will never be the same again!
Watch a little video by the students, in which they further explain their invention – and spill a lot of ketchup:
Image credits: KCPT.