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How do you break an egg?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Easy problem right? Well in this case not so much. Let me explain the background.

I was visiting my old university earlier today to do some research and disicovered it had a design competition where the aim is to break an egg then separate it out into its component parts (yolk, white and shell). Of course just to make life a little more difficult there can of course be no human involvement in the whole procedure.

Being the engineer that I am I thought I would see if I could work out a decent way of doing this.

Here is basically the most successful methods I have considered so far. There have been others but they were...well...disasters

Option 1
Hold the egg in a clamp then slice the bottom and have the yolk fall down into the dimple that you find under a bottle (turn it upside down and you will see what I mean). That process works in theory (breaking the egg manually and tipping it in to the upturned bottle is successful at separating the yolk and egg white) except for one little snag.

As any good engineer is likely aware when you take an egg and apply a force (from the clamp) to the shell then break the bottom, you in fact cause the egg to shatter. Surface forces change and what was previously a sustainable clamping force becomes excessive.

Option 2
Similar to option 1 but this time you drop the egg down onto a bottle opener (actually punching it from the top twice and turning the egg over is best but more difficult to automate). Then punch a hole in the top and the white runs out readily. An idea similar to what you all likely did at some stage with easter eggs but relying solely on gravity instead of blowing.

Anyway if all goes according to plan you end up with yolk still in shell or in a catching part below with the shell separate and white in another section.

So what's the problem? Well there's the potential for the egg to not really flow properly and worse there is a potential to destroy the yolk (that's a big problem).

You see if the yolk is damaged there's trouble. The yolk mixes with the white and becomes nearly impossible to separate.

Option 3
Cook the egg at around 250 degrees F. The egg expands and cracks the shell. Herein lies the first problem. How do you then go from cracked shell to separated shell? Some eggs cling to their shells more than others and without doing a study into the cause you have to appreciate you may have a potential problem there.

One solution I found to this problem was to get a guillotine and slice down the centre or several times. Place the egg into water (warm is best) and certain parts generally float and with a fan can be removed. The problem is the separation is hard to control.

I tried using various oils as well but that didn't succeed.

Anyway there are three options to give you an idea (basically you are breaking an egg ).

Now the question is how would you break an egg and separate it into its components given all you have to use is basic household utensils?

[ 10-14-2002: Message edited by: Telomar ]</p>
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post #2 of 19
never leave the engineers to cook.. (ok i am a msc eng..)

do they have to see you do that?
if not...
take 2 eggs.

do 1 small hole to egg 1 in the top and in the bottom. (the white and yellow stuff get mixed when the hole to exit them is small. if you do a bigger hole in the bottom, you can avoid that. well could work - be careful not to break it too much.. and conserve the pieces to rebuild it.)
blow the egg out of the shell.
break the egg 2 normally, raw. then put the white and yellow where you want, and fix the egg 1 shell.

maybe the egg1 is enoguh. do a big hole on the bottom.. big enough to not mix them (3 cm) and .. it could work.

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post #3 of 19
[quote]Originally posted by Mulattabianca:
<strong>never leave the engineers to cook.. (ok i am a msc eng..) </strong><hr></blockquote>


eggzactly...

One hand. Crack and split...goodnight...
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post #4 of 19
Couldn't you simply use a fertilised egg, sit it on a heated cushion and wait for the chick to hatch? Result, two separated components, a chick and a broken shell. Engineering, it's all about thinking laterally

[ 10-14-2002: Message edited by: RodUK ]</p>
post #5 of 19
[quote]Originally posted by RodUK:
<strong>Couldn't you simply use a fertilised egg, sit it on a heated cushion and wait for the chick to hatch? Result, two separated components, a chick and a broken shell. Engineering, it's all about thinking laterally

[ 10-14-2002: Message edited by: RodUK ]</strong><hr></blockquote>

... telling the engineers how to have a chick, right??

[ 10-14-2002: Message edited by: Mulattabianca ]</p>
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post #6 of 19
i'd go with something to hold the egg (suction-cup like) on the bottom. then have a screw and something that turns it to puncture the egg. make a hold about 1/4 inch wide.

then turn the egg upside down (the yolk should have been on the bottom since it's heavier)

leave your suction cup deal (or anything to hold onto it) in place and wait. the white will drip out and leave behind the yolk.

hmm, just had another thought.

you could also try same thing, only if it doesn't drain out of the egg on its own, try puttin the egg in a glass/bucket of water. that should dissolve the egg white and leave the yolk behind. they're now seperated, but the egg white will be diluted.
post #7 of 19
I'm thinking along the same lines as alcimedes. Go with what works now just make it mechanical.

Two suction cups put a little tension on the end of the egg. Crack it and pull shell apart. Allow egg to fall into cup that's used to separate yolk and white. Finished.


It'll be like Edward Scissors Hands
post #8 of 19
Put egg in vertical in round holster thing with rubber walls.

egg breaker deploys. An egg breaker is spring loaded and has teeth that pop out. The manual versions are standard kitchen tools.

Now the egg is broken.

round holster thing rotates, the other half of the shell is held in the breaker teeth, which are integrated in the round holster thing. The egg contents pour into a strainer. Whites pass, yolks do not.

the round holster rotates back the other way, the teeth retract, and the shell gets dumped into the trash.

2 moving parts.
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post #9 of 19
Soak egg in weak acid - carbonic or diluted acetic acid will do. If none of those are available, use household vinegar. The mostly calcium outer shell will dissolve in a few days. Remove from acid bath and you will now have an egg surrounded by a transparent membrane. Use as desired.

degree = chemistry

[ 10-14-2002: Message edited by: klinux ]</p>
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post #10 of 19
Option 3: try to switch the egg to vB.
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post #11 of 19
...egg white corrupts, yolk doesn't seem to want to translate over to vB, shell difficult to replicate exactly on vB.
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
Sorry I should clarify some things. Quality of product matters and there is a 30 second time limit, hence option 3 can't actually be done, although someone mentioned a blowtorch might get it done in the allotted time I wonder what happens when you expose an egg to a blowtorch...

Splinemodel I had never seen an automatic egg breaker so that is a nice description but remember you are basically using houshold items. Cutters are easy enough but rotating and turning devices that are automated are not so easy I imagine. A toy dump truck could work.

The major problem seems to lie in breaking the egg or getting it from inside its shell to whatever separating system you have devised. Separation is relatively easy.

I'm determined to solve this...either that or I will just have to go and find out what the winning entries were when it is announced
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post #13 of 19
[quote]Originally posted by Telomar:
<strong>

Splinemodel I had never seen an automatic egg breaker so that is a nice description but remember you are basically using houshold items. Cutters are easy enough but rotating and turning devices that are automated are not so easy I imagine. A toy dump truck could work.

The major problem seems to lie in breaking the egg or getting it from inside its shell to whatever separating system you have devised. Separation is relatively easy. </strong><hr></blockquote>

You forget that I am an engineer. Give me a motor, potentially from anything, and I'll build the controller out of the electronics from a clock radio.

And I realize 3 moving parts. The egg cutter needs a lifting motor. easy enough. two motors and a some cams. Easy stuff to find in any motorized toys. Hell, I may as well take the voltage controllers from them too, but I'd rather go AC.

And it would separate an egg in about 10 secs.
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post #14 of 19
[quote]Originally posted by Telomar:
<strong>Easy problem right? Well in this case not so much. Let me explain the background.

I was visiting my old university earlier today to do some research and disicovered it had a design competition where the aim is to break an egg then separate it out into its component parts (yolk, white and shell). Of course just to make life a little more difficult there can of course be no human involvement in the whole procedure.

Being the engineer that I am I thought I would see if I could work out a decent way of doing this.

Here is basically the most successful methods I have considered so far. There have been others but they were...well...disasters

Option 1
Hold the egg in a clamp then slice the bottom and have the yolk fall down into the dimple that you find under a bottle (turn it upside down and you will see what I mean). That process works in theory (breaking the egg manually and tipping it in to the upturned bottle is successful at separating the yolk and egg white) except for one little snag.

As any good engineer is likely aware when you take an egg and apply a force (from the clamp) to the shell then break the bottom, you in fact cause the egg to shatter. Surface forces change and what was previously a sustainable clamping force becomes excessive.

Option 2
Similar to option 1 but this time you drop the egg down onto a bottle opener (actually punching it from the top twice and turning the egg over is best but more difficult to automate). Then punch a hole in the top and the white runs out readily. An idea similar to what you all likely did at some stage with easter eggs but relying solely on gravity instead of blowing.

Anyway if all goes according to plan you end up with yolk still in shell or in a catching part below with the shell separate and white in another section.

So what's the problem? Well there's the potential for the egg to not really flow properly and worse there is a potential to destroy the yolk (that's a big problem).

You see if the yolk is damaged there's trouble. The yolk mixes with the white and becomes nearly impossible to separate.

Option 3
Cook the egg at around 250 degrees F. The egg expands and cracks the shell. Herein lies the first problem. How do you then go from cracked shell to separated shell? Some eggs cling to their shells more than others and without doing a study into the cause you have to appreciate you may have a potential problem there.

One solution I found to this problem was to get a guillotine and slice down the centre or several times. Place the egg into water (warm is best) and certain parts generally float and with a fan can be removed. The problem is the separation is hard to control.

I tried using various oils as well but that didn't succeed.

Anyway there are three options to give you an idea (basically you are breaking an egg ).

Now the question is how would you break an egg and separate it into its components given all you have to use is basic household utensils?

[ 10-14-2002: Message edited by: Telomar ]</strong><hr></blockquote>

What University is that?
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post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
As it turns out if you drop an egg from roughly knee height it breaks relatively cleanly. Of a dozen eggs I had one broken yolk. Shell separation from the yolk can be difficult if it doesn't flow right.

[quote]Originally posted by JRC:
<strong>

What University is that?</strong><hr></blockquote>

Sydney. Mechatronics I think it was (or maybe it was aeromech or both) had to do a wind powered car. Civil had a problem to do with leaking sands and budget cuts, that there really wasn't a lot of details on and made no sense to me. Chemical had to break an egg and separate it into its component parts.

Computer science, mechanical and electrical are a boring bunch that I didn't see anything for

Another fun past time of the engineers at Sydney is keg jumping. They slide down a waterslide laid out on the ground and jump kegs all while exceptionally inebriated. Last year an engineer from Sydney was in hospital from a massive gash down his leg (4" or so). Apparently every year people end up in hospital to it.

[ 10-15-2002: Message edited by: Telomar ]</p>
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post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 
Oh and just for reference I made a working model from Splinemodel's idea using motors and a couple nice blades. I am still trying to do it without mechanical parts though.
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post #17 of 19
how about some pics?

eggs are always fun...!
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post #18 of 19
I like chemistry not physics
I was as star chemistry student...but I haven't studied it in a while, I'm probably really rusty. I will be taking the SAT 2 chemistry test...I doubt I'll do that well though, I don't do well on standardized tests

oh and is the goal of this egg thingie to break it and seperate the White the yolk and the shell? into seperate entities?

[ 10-15-2002: Message edited by: Wrong Robust ]</p>
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post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
People always think it strange but I don't even actually own a camera. Maybe if I had kids I would want one but I never had time for kids.

And yep the point of the exercise is to get the white in one container, the yolk in another and finally the shell somewhere else.
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