This invention will change the way we purchase and eat food. I can’t wait to see it on the shelves in 2013. – Alexa
If you look at the structure of an orange or a coconut, you generally have a skin that maintains moisture and an outer coat that protects that skin. In the case of a coconut, it’s the shell; with an orange it’s the peel.
Like the coconut or orange, the WikiCell, an edible form of packaging invented by Harvard professor David Edwards, provides a double layer of protection around the liquid, foam or solid it holds.
You can think of the first layer, a soft skin, like a raisin skin. It’s made of three main components: tiny natural food particles, like chocolate, fruit, nuts or seeds; a nutritive ion-like calcium; and a natural molecule like chitosan (which comes from the body) or alginate (which comes from algae).
When you mix these three things together they form an electrostatic gel that keeps water inside the food or drink.
The second layer, a protective shell around the skin, is like the egg-carton packaging. Depending on the kind of WikiCell and how it reaches the consumer, that shell may be completely edible (in which case you would wash it like an apple) or completely biodegradable (in which which case you can peel it off and throw it away).
The edible shell would be made of isomalt (a kind of sweetener) and the biodegradable shell would be made of baggase (what remains when you remove sugar from sugar cane) or tapioca.