A technology that can make ice at room temperature has been developed. This technology can maintain the taste and freshness of food products for a long time and enhance their marketability.
The Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS) announced on May 30 that a research team led by Lee Yoon-hee, Lee Soo-hyung and Lee Geun-woo successfully made ice at room temperature by compressing water in an extreme environment of ultra-high pressure.
As the solidification process of liquid is affected by temperature as well as pressure, ice can be made at room temperature under the super high pressure condition of giga pascal (㎬), which is about 10,000 times the atmospheric pressure.
The team developed a real-time dynamic diamond anvil cell device that can pressurize water up to 5 million times the atmospheric pressure per second. In addition, the team succeeded in controlling the shape of ice by changing the three-dimensional octahedral ice into a two-dimensional wing shape through pressure manipulation.
Controlling ice crystals with pressure instead of temperature can solve the problems of current ice making. When food is frozen at normal atmospheric pressure, hexagonal ice crystals shaped like needles are created and damage cells and tissues. That is why the quality and taste of frozen meat is less than raw meat. If the meat is frozen at high pressure, another shape of non-sharp ice crystals is formed, protecting meat quality.
Principal investigator Lee Yoon-hee said, "Applying high-pressure refrigeration technology to the cold chain system, which is currently used for the distribution of fresh foods, will contribute to improving the value of food products. This technology can be applied not only to biotechnology, food, medical, and aerospace areas but also to life exploration of earth and extraterrestrial planets.”
This study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) and was conducted with the support of the Ministry of Science and ICT.