Food & Drink

A Rocket Scientist Designs a High-Performance Saucepan


Lakeland Flare PansCourtesy LakelandLakeland Flare Pans

In sweltering summer months, we tend to think about the energy we use to keep our homes cool. An additional energy sucker escapes notice: the stove pot. So a British rocket scientist has redesigned it to be more 30 percent more efficient by capturing the heat that traditional pans lose.

Tom Povey, an Oxford engineering professor who specializes in jet and rocket engines, claims his Flare pans heat quicker, cook food faster, and distribute the heat more evenly than regular pots. The secret: Aerodynamic fins on the outside channel the heat up the sides, rather than letting it dissipate into the air after leaving the burner.

Lakeland Flare PanCourtesy LakelandLakeland Flare Pan

Povey, who is also a mountaineer, originally set out to improve the efficiency of cooking outdoors. “It is very difficult to boil water at high altitude,” he says, “because much of the heat is wasted in the hot gas that rises up around the side of the pan.” The same inefficiencies exist in domestic pots, though most cooks are unaware of the problem.

To create a solution that consumers would buy, Povey realized he needed to develop a high-performing product with a price tag that wouldn’t make consumers wince. Think of the result as the Dyson vacuum of pots—a fancy domestic tool whose jet-engine aerodynamics might entice people who need persuading to cook at home. Now on sale via British manufacturer Lakeland, Flare pans cost slightly more than professional-grade aluminum-clad nonstick cookware. A three-piece set goes for £149.99 ($256). No word on whether they’ll be made available in the U.S.

Povey says the pots quickly “pay for themselves” in energy and time saved; they boil water 30 percent faster than your current pasta pot does.

Lanks is the design editor of Businessweek.com.

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