Scientists Develop Way to ‘Unboil’ an Egg

Don’t look for a kitchen product that will recover hard boiled eggs and allow you to change your mind to make an omelet or fry eggs sunny-side up instead. The boys in the lab just had to dramatically demonstrate their newly created device that untangles proteins in boiled egg whites that reduces it to a liquid with proteins intact.

So it’s impractical for kitchen use. Besides, it didn’t deal with the yokes, only the whites. Before attempting to explain why they’re doing this, let’s discuss the demonstration. “Yes, we have invented a way to unboil a hen egg,” said Gregory Weiss, University of California Irvine (UCI) professor of chemistry and molecular biology and biochemistry.

Weiss explains, “In our paper, we describe a device for pulling apart tangled proteins and allowing them to refold. We start with egg whites boiled for 20 minutes at 90 degrees Celsius and return a key protein in the egg to working order. It’s not so much that we’re interested in processing the eggs; that’s just demonstrating how powerful this process is.”

The demonstration began by applying an artificially produced urea substance, also known as carbamide, which replicates the urea that creates ammonia waste eliminated in urine by the body’s metabolism of breaking down of proteins. Carbamide is used to enhance protein in animal feed and as fertilizer.