Boiled eggs are a regular part of breakfast for many of us. However, have you ever heard of an unboiled egg? A scientific team that is being led by UC Irvine has recently demonstrated that it is possible to have an egg unboiled (by egg we mean egg white). Although the process is not easy, the trick sure is doable and aims at introducing a new approach for carrying out recovery of important molecular proteins faster and in an economical manner.
Egg is composed of 90% water while the remaining 10% is protein. This 10% gives the gloppy texture to the egg whites. The proteins are found in eggs in shapes of amino acids’ chains that are tangled and folded in on themselves akin to piles of microscopic yarn being held in place via weak atomic bonds. When you place the egg in boiling water, the heat attacks these weak bonds and breaks them thus forcing the chain to loosen and break. The chains then form bonds with other amino acids and in doing so, the water gets trapped in between the new folds making the whites turn white and gelatinous. When cooked for longer span of time, the chains become curled in on themselves and force the water in whites to become hard and rubber-like.
UC Irvine team boiled eggs at 90 degrees C for a good 20 minutes and got very hard boiled eggs. The team then began work to reverse the process and transform the hard whites into lysozyme; a clear protein, by making use of urea. The urea attacks the chemical bonds that make the coagulated chains to wrongly fold on each other. The liquid mass is then driven through a vortex fluid device that has been designed by Professor Colin Raston at South Australia’s Flinders University. This approach resulted in development of shear stresses that made the chains untangle into the uncooked form.
The goal of this research was to come up with a means of recovering molecular proteins. When compared with conventional methods that require 4 days to recover the proteins, this process is completed in mere minutes.
Professor Gregory Weiss at UCI said, “It’s not so much that we’re interested in processing the eggs; that’s just demonstrating how powerful this process is. The real problem is there are lots of cases of gummy proteins that you spend way too much time scraping off your test tubes, and you want some means of recovering that material.”
Watch the video below for more!