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Together at last – milk and sugar, in dissolvable capsules

Together at last – milk and su...
Some of the capsules, as compared to a disposable coffee cream packet
Some of the capsules, as compared to a disposable coffee cream packet
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Some of the capsules, as compared to a disposable coffee cream packet
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Some of the capsules, as compared to a disposable coffee cream packet

Those little plastic containers of coffee cream may not look significant on their own, but when you consider how many of them are used and discarded every day … it adds up to a lot of waste. That's why Martha Wellner, when she was a PhD student at Germany's Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, created milk-and-sugar capsules that dissolve completely when placed in hot liquid.

To make the capsules, a solution of milk and sugar is first placed in a mold. As that liquid cools, some of the sugar moves to the outside edges (along the contours of the mold), where it crystallizes. The milk-sugar solution in the middle remains in a liquid state, encapsulated by the crystalline outer shell.

Once the capsules are removed from the mold and stored at room temperature, the milk in them stays good for at least three weeks.

By tweaking parameters such as the type of sugar used, there are currently both highly-sweetened and lightly-sweetened versions of the capsules. That said, Martin Luther scientists are now working on an unsweetened version, that uses a substance other than sugar to form the shell. Additionally, Wellner points out that the technology could be used to encapsulate other liquids, such as fruit juice concentrate.

Although the university registered a patent for the process back in 2015, it's still waiting on regulatory approval, and is working on scaling the system up to industrial production levels.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Chemical Engineering & Technology.

Source: Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

7 comments
JenniferPage
Those minipackets infuriate me. What is wrong with a jug of milk next to the coffee dispenser and a sugar jar dispenser. Less waste. Less weight, better cuppa.
Aross
Ditto Jennifer Page. This concept of a throw away society needs to be thrown away.
CraigAllenCorson
This was Homer Simpson's idea, in an episode that featured Elon Musk. If Homie doesn't get a cut, Martin Luther U. is going to have a lawsuit on their hands.
Bob Flint
I agree with the other comments, not solving an actual problem as there are other ways to dispense milk.
But for those people only wanting milk and no sugar you now have a molded (unprotected) likely dirty container that you dissolve into your hot beverage. Seems this wannabe solution has now become more complex, costly, and certification of food packaging is quite strict.
However as clever as this sugar ball solution is, it fails to address other issues such as contamination by fingers, or other surfaces or even dealing with humidity & moisture. Will it dissolve sitting in the sun, and how much energy is required to get these balls formed, expiry dates? Bulk transport?
Nothing wrong with a simple paper packet of sugar, simple biodegradable, and renewable.
Fred's Brother
It may be convenient for some, but adding sugar to offset the flavor of the coffee seems unnecessary. The US and most Nations have seen an increase in diabetes with the spread of sugary soft drinks and added sugar in too many products.
FabianLamaestra
A Milk or Suger dispenser would be better. A milk jug for all to grab and handle is a germ magnet. Have you ever witnessed how many people fail to wash their hands in restrooms, then go outside to wipe their noses, touch their phones, cough without covering, GROSS...
icykel
Across. Where is 'away' ?