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Flare Pan is claimed to be 40 percent more energy-efficient than regular cookware

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July 14, 2014

The Flare Pan is based on jet engine-cooling technology

The Flare Pan is based on jet engine-cooling technology

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When the University of Oxford's Dr. Thomas Povey was on a mountaineering trip several years ago, he became acutely aware of how much fuel was required to boil water using his conventional cookware. This inspired the professor of engineering to develop a new type of cooking pan, that would make better use of available heat. The result is the "finned" Flare Pan, which requires 40 percent less heat than a regular pan to get just as hot.

When Povey and colleagues tested traditional pans on a gas range, they noticed that much of the heat from the flame simply went up the sides of the vessel and into the air.

Drawing on technology developed to dissipate heat in jet engines, the fins built into the sides of the Flare Pan served to absorb much of that previously-wasted heat. Known as FIN-X technology, the design also distributed that heat more evenly. As a result, not only is less energy required, but items can also be cooked faster using the same heat output.

The available in a variety of sizes, all of which feature a cast aluminum body with stainl...

Developed through the university's Isis Innovation commercialization branch, the Flare Pan is available for pre-order through UK kitchen goods retailer Lakeland. It's available in four sizes, all of which feature a cast aluminum body with stainless steel handles and fins. Prices range from £49.99 (US$85) for a 20-cm (7.9-in) saucepan, to £84.99 ($145) for a 5.5-liter (1.5-US gal) lidded stockpot.

The company is expecting to receive delivery of the pans and begin shipments as of August 25th.

More information on the development of the technology is available in the video below.

Sources: Isis Innovation, Lakeland via LA Times

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
20 Comments

It won't be popular. Why? Because it will be harder to clean on the outside.

Koichi Matsui
14th July, 2014 @ 03:19 pm PDT

Interesting that they don't show in inside of the pans. If those fins are pressed into the sides so that you get the reverse pattern inside I can foresee a lot of effort being needed to keep the inside clean.

As it happens I have a set of pans from the 50s that have a truncated conical shape that also heat the contents faster than parallel sided pans just as the blurb said (if I remember the blurb that came with them correctly) so this general idea isn't new.

ivan4
14th July, 2014 @ 04:07 pm PDT

Seems to me their one advantage only happens with gas stoves. A lot of consumers have electric stoves, which wouldn't benefit much from the fins.

In my estimation, the most efficient stove and cookware combination would be induction cooktop under special pots and pans that are multi-ply stainless with aluminum core, plus a seasonable carbon steel inner surface for saute and other fry pans. The sides and lid of the cookware should be insulated, perhaps with glass fiber batting, to vastly reduce heat loss to the ambient air. My induction cooker already heats stainless and carbon steel cookware at least as fast as a gas burner would. With insulated sides, it would be unbeatable.

Gadgeteer
14th July, 2014 @ 04:14 pm PDT

@ Ivan,

"If those fins are pressed into the sides so that you get the reverse pattern inside I can foresee a lot of effort being needed to keep the inside clean."

They are not.

thk
14th July, 2014 @ 04:27 pm PDT

love it.

I imagine the inside would be smooth.

But i'd double-check before purchasing.

Milton
14th July, 2014 @ 05:22 pm PDT

It certainly gives more area to absorb heat from the fire. I don't see it providing an improvement on non flame heat sources unless the inside is a cleaning nightmare.

Slowburn
14th July, 2014 @ 05:26 pm PDT

If you don't have a gas (or open fire) cooking system it seems to be a waste of money.

An outer flared 'halo' base ring - detachable for cleaning - would channel the heat just as well, and probably easier to make.

The Skud
14th July, 2014 @ 06:30 pm PDT

I'm just wondering if they are suitable for use on an induction cooktop and, if so, whether they have found any improvements of this design over the normal pans.

Personally, I like the way Gadgeteer thinks. Why haven't pans been designed with integrated insulation?

John Knox
14th July, 2014 @ 09:00 pm PDT

In a sane society we would slowly phase out old pans and such with new more efficient designs and save mega tons of gas. Instead this will be only at max in a small amount of pans as a niche market or something.

Ben Tumaru O'Brien
14th July, 2014 @ 09:59 pm PDT

Alternatively, make the bottom of the pot concave, ie bowed upwards in the center. The hot air would concentrate in the center pocket underneath the pot.

Or an outer skirt, a complement of above, as mentioned by The Skud

Of course both solutions only really suitable for gas.

Realistically an insulated outer cradle (nest) like a slow cooker or rice cooker using electric coil or gas would be most efficient. But a bit of a pain to clean unless the insulated outer is completely concealed in a smooth washable tub.

Nairda
14th July, 2014 @ 11:23 pm PDT

@ Koichi Matsui

"It won't be popular. Why? Because it will be harder to clean on the outside."

You clean the outside!

Mel Tisdale
15th July, 2014 @ 06:05 am PDT

surprised no one has mentioned the obvious thing - make sure you always put a lid on a pan. It heats one hell of a lot quicker and usually boils even when the gas is turned to simmer - and most pans are sold with lids!

JPAR
15th July, 2014 @ 07:33 am PDT

Interesting... If I had a gas stove. It's also quite pricey.

Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret
15th July, 2014 @ 12:10 pm PDT

Where was this 100, 200 years ago? I noted an observation by design engineers testing variations on the rocket stove that they found the most important factor in efficient cooking was not heat creation, but heat transfer. I noted that almost every design I saw focused on heat creation. I designed (in my head) a stove with recessed pots. The pots would be constantly surrounded by the heat inside a chamber with only the tops sticking out. This would facilitate maximum heat transfer to the food. Add an insulated cover (glass?) and the heat would be trapped.

I plan on buying the Flare pot if it is not stainless/copper or stainless. I want cast iron/ceramic coating or glass. Those are the only two safe materials.

Don Duncan
15th July, 2014 @ 12:37 pm PDT

Haven't they heard of the Kelly Kettle or the Jetboil system?

SamC
15th July, 2014 @ 03:23 pm PDT

Similarly, after going camping & not being happy with my cheap, thin, teflon coated frypan, I went out shopping and blew $15 for a pre-seasoned cast iron fry pan. What an excellent pan! It cooks far superior to any of my former pans. Just the fact that it's kind of heavy & massive makes it cook evenly and well. I use it all the time, not just for camping.

Every gas-fired appliance in your home is required to have an exhaust duct to the outdoors, except for the gas-fired stove. It's products of combustion get blown right in your face. Before long the smoke and exhaust makes everything in your home grungy and yellow. Most people who have such stoves deny this, of course. Gas stoves work better than others during a power outage, and offer your best opportunity for self-asphyxiation.

Grunchy
15th July, 2014 @ 06:20 pm PDT

Interesting idea but too pricey. I'm also not sure how hot those metal handles would be over an open fire. For mountaineering I think I would want self heating MREs instead of these bulky pots to clean after every use. If you are going to carry the pans then it seems like I also remember a small enclosed folding stove years ago that pretty well held in the heat and used little fuel tablets.

Bob
15th July, 2014 @ 09:44 pm PDT

Waste heat will rise, no matter WHAT the source is. Gas, electric, wood, it doesn't matter, so a pan that absorbs some of that waste heat make sense.

To insulate the walls of any pan would require it to be double-walled, that would be a much heavier pan, and more expensive.

An aluminum core would be nice, since aluminum tranfers heat well, but silver would be much better (if we are designing the best pan/pot) as I believe nothing transfers heat better.(however, no food contact to aluminum as it has been linked to Alzheimer's.)

Lids should be made from poor heat conductors to lose less heat. And it would be useful if they had a dishwasher safe inagrated thermometer. (Color change?)

Those fins on these new pots would be more effective if they were not vertical, but spiraled to slow down and absorb more of the waste heat.

(I am assuming, the number of fins is due to a math calculation, and more fins would not help.)

kellory
16th July, 2014 @ 03:54 pm PDT

@Bob

No you wouldn't want MREs, because you still need to carry a pot to melt snow for water. A tablet fuel stove won't produce enough heat, either.

@SamC

Gas canister systems like jetboil don't work when it gets cold and high enough and there's nothing for a kellykettle to burn above the treeline.

This idea was conceived mountaineering, and mountaineering is the only scenario where these pots display an unassailable advantage - melting snow can take hours each day and forces you to carry way more fuel than you'd otherwise need, particularly annoying when typically you're in a situation where every extra gram counts.

Mountaineers and many hikers are some of the most gear-obsessed early-adopters on the planet, and they would buy these things in a heartbeat at whatever price - but not when they're made of steel and likely way a ton.

Maybe they need to be steel for the thermodynamics to work, but the best marketing strategy for mine would be to make a top-line light-weight mountaineering set for the hard-core. It would allow an inroad for the home cooking versions, too - open minded, wealthy people would get exposed to them while doing their fully supported $60k Everest / $150k seven summits "expeditions", and would likely go on to purchase a set for home, both for the environmental benefit and as a less ostentatious way to announce to dinner guests that they've been to the top of the world than the standard set of prayer flags on the deck and crossed ice-axes above the fireplace.

Billy600
17th July, 2014 @ 04:06 am PDT

@Gadgeteer

When using a very inexpensive small 1 litre Ikea 365+ pan, I can boil 700cc of water in less than a minute using my commercial 4x3,5kW induction range. This is waaay faster than my 2x6kW gas burners sitting next to the induction unit. The units come from Angelo Po's Gamma range and they are installed in my domestic kitchen.

The gas burners only shine when using heavy cast iron skillets or pans that you want burning hot. Gas burners heat the pans hotter and heat even the sides.

Induction is really the way to go.

tjunkie
24th September, 2014 @ 12:06 pm PDT
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