The Curious Case Of The Unmeltable Ice Cube

3:44 minutes

Jiahan Zou, a UC Davis PhD graduate student, holds one of the jelly ice cubes. Credit: Alysha Beck/UC Davis

Imagine a trip to the grocery or fish market, and seeing cuts of fresh fish laid out on beds of ice to chill. The shaved ice keeps the fish at the proper temperature—but what happens when that ice starts to melt, or gets dirty?

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have developed a reusable ‘jelly ice’ cube that does not lose its shape when it warms. The cubes, which can take a variety of shapes, are a hydrogel material made from 10% protein-based gelatin in water. The researchers say the cubes can be rinsed off and re-frozen up to 10 times—and when their life cycle is done, can be composted or mixed into plant growth media. 

Luxin Wang, an associate professor of food science and technology at UC Davis, describes the novel material and its properties. 

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Luxin Wang

Luxin Wang is an associate professor of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis in Davis, California.

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