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Surprising Science

A Rocket Scientist Redesigns the Kitchen Saucepan

Dr. Tom Povey is a professor of Engineering Science at Oxford University who designs cooling systems for jet engines. In the early 2000s, inspired by his love of the outdoors, he started working on a small side project pursuing a more efficient pan for the times he would go camping. Many years later that project turned into a line of kitchen pots that use 40% less gas than the conventional ones. 

The Flare pans have fins on the sides that create channels to guide the flames further along the surface. Povey uses similar kind of designs in his jet engine work.

It’s the same kind of problem but in reverse. In jet engine parts we struggle to keep parts cool, and the heat exchanges inside those parts are designed to take as much heat out as possible. By putting a carefully designed heat exchanger on the outside of a pan we increase the flow of heat from the flame to the pan, and can control how evenly the heat enters the pan.”

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Povey and a team of physics master students went through several different prorotypes before arriving at the final product. A big challenge was combining efficiency with consumer-friendly design. For example, one of the designs managed to deliver a 100 percent increase in performance but looked “insane” according to the licensee company.

The Flare pans are available through Lakeland.

via Wired

Photo: Lakeland


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