Science is looking for an answer to all the important questions of life, and therefore found out once and for all whether it is possible to fry potato chips in space. The European Space Agency (ESA) wanted to know if gravity was necessary to cook with oil. What does it look like? Our Belgian delicacy can simply go into space with you.
What do you need to bake French fries? Potatoes, a deep fryer, oil…and maybe gravity too, says the European Space Agency. When we move something on the ground, bubbles form that move upwards due to buoyancy. What happens to those bubbles in space where gravity is negligible? Will they stick to the French fries? Do they then form some kind of barrier around the potatoes that prevents the oil from frying the chips?
To test this, a special automatic fryer was made. It was equipped with high-speed cameras to study the bubbles and was safely automated. The researchers took the fryer into a parabolic flight of the European Space Agency, causing it to experience weightlessness. During the experiment, the temperature of the oil and potatoes was measured and the movement of the bubbles was studied.
The experiment produced only good news for all enthusiasts, because bubbles can easily separate from potatoes even in microgravity. So astronauts can keep eating french fries in space!
Small step or big leap?
The research may also bring good news to the wider scientific world, as studying fryers in space could lead to advances in several areas. “From conventional cooking to hydrogen production from solar energy in microgravity,” said John Lioumbas, lead author of the study.
“Ask any chef and they will confirm that the physics and chemistry behind food is a complex and fascinating subject that extends to other scientific disciplines,” said Professor Theodoris Karabantsios of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, who was also part of the research.
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