Health, Science, Technology

Making Glue Less Sticky

Image: Kulmalukko
Image: Kulmalukko

Getting that last drop of glue out of the bottle will soon be easier, thanks to a new lubricant called LiquiGlide.

A lubricant is a substance that reduces friction between two surfaces. LiquiGlide reduces the friction between the walls of a container and the liquid it holds so the contents will slide out more easily.

Elmer’s Products – a company that makes many types of glue – recently signed an agreement with the makers of LiquiGlide to test the new product in its containers.

LiquiGlide was invented by Kripa Varanasi, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Dave Smith, a student. They were trying to find a way to move thick, sticky liquids like oil or paint more efficiently.

Thick liquids flow slowly because the layer of the liquid next to the wall of the container sticks to the surface. The liquid needs to be pumped or squeezed to keep it moving.

LiquiGlide works by coating the inside surface of a container so the liquid slides on top of the LiquiGlide layer instead of the container wall.

Dr. Varanasi got the idea to apply the same method to household products when his wife asked him if he could find a way to make honey flow out of the bottle more quickly.

LiquiGlide makes the inside of a bottle permanently slippery, so thick substances – like ketchup, mayonnaise, toothpaste, lotion, detergent or glue – slide quickly along the surface.

The formula for making LiquiGlide can be changed depending on what product is in the container. For food products, it is made from edible materials.

LiquiGlide can also help the environment. Studies show that as much as 15 per cent of foods like ketchup and mustard and 25 per cent of lotions never make it out of the bottle. LiquiGlide will help reduce waste by making it easier to use every drop of a product.

Nozzles and pumps could be eliminated from bottles, and packaging could be made smaller, reducing the amount of plastic that is used and discarded.

For industrial uses, less energy would be needed to push products through pipes, and equipment wouldn’t need to be cleaned as often.

This oddly satisfying video shows LiquiGlide in action (note: there is a pop-up ad about at the half-way point–we have no control over what ad will come up, but so far we haven’t noticed any that are not kid-friendly):

Related links:
This New York Times article goes into more details about the physics of LiquiGlide.

There are also videos on the LiquiGlide website here:

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
On the LiquiGlide website, it is described as a “green technology.” The website states, “LiquiGlide is proud to be considered a green technology and it is one of the major factors that motivates us to bring our innovation to the world. Helping to increase energy efficiency, reduce waste, shrink packaging and decrease carbon footprints are just a few of the environmentally friendly benefits of LiquiGlide.”

Using information from the article and your own ideas, describe why LiquiGlide is a “green technology” and explain how it can reduce waste and help the environment.

Reading Prompt: Extending Understanding
As explained in the Discussion Prompt, LiquiGlide is a “green technology.” Do you think all new technologies should be green? Why or why not?

Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Language Feature: Portmanteau Word
A portmanteau word combines the sounds and meanings of two words into one new word. For example, LiquiGlide combines “liquid” and “glide” to make a new word.

Read the list below and determine what two words are combined together to make the portmanteau words:
1. brunch
2. motel
3. cockapoo
4. jeggings
5. smog
6. email
7. shockumentary
8. pleather
9. toonie
10. blog