MIT Invented Shape-Shifting Pasta That Reduces Packaging Waste

Imagine purchasing a package of pasta that is slim, flat, and contains minimal bits of cardboard or plastic. Now imagine removing that flat, uninspiring pasta and, a few minutes after boiling it, discovering that the noodles had transformed into new shapes. Such is a possibility introduced by MIT's Tangible Media Group, with researchers developing a new type of past that changes shape after being submerged into water.

The new pasta creation was detailed by MIT on Wednesday, with the institute describing it as something that is like 'edible origami.' Though the pasta sheets are flat, they can transform into typical pasta shapes — such as rotini — once dropped into a pot of water. The researchers can also make pasta that turns into more interesting shapes like a flower.

While this is interesting from a cook's point of view, it has a far more practical application: reducing the amount of packaging and shipping space necessary to sell the pasta. As it stands, bags of pre-formed pasta are large, taking up a bunch of room on planes, freighters, and store shelves, as well as requiring more plastic or cardboard.

Talking about this, MIT research scientist and study co-author Wen Wang said:

We did some simple calculations, such as for macaroni pasta, and even if you pack it perfectly, you still will end up with 67 percent of the volume as air. We thought maybe in the future our shape-changing food could be packed flat and save space.