Induction Burners in the Kitchen

A look at ‘new’ technology derived from standard science
A transforming kitchen environment is seeing the use of induction burners instead of old-fashioned stoves. As a recent Fast Company article highlighted through the lens of Chicago’s own Alinea restaurant, the “back of the house” is now the most high-tech part of the restaurant in a rising number of cases. But using induction for heat is not a new concept, it is just being repurposed. Bosch’s kitchen portfolio, along with most of CNET and Forbes’ recent conventions, illustrate the trend from a manufacturer’s standpoint.

Bosch home appliances, for example, “is taking its commitment to making mealtime more enjoyable to the next level” with the introduction of new cooktops, slide-in ranges, wall ovens and ventilation hoods to its cooking line, the company said in a February 20 press release. The line includes connected capabilities, as induction burners are also being integrated with smart appliances.

The science behind this won’t be new, however, to most engineers. An induction burner consists of a ceramic plate with an electromagnetic coil beneath it. When you turn on the burner, an electric current runs through the coil, generating a fluctuating magnetic field, but no heat on the burner itself. However, once you set an iron or stainless steel pan on the burner, the magnetic field induces many smaller electric currents in the pan’s metal.

Iron is a poor conductor of electricity, so as all these small currents run through the iron, much of the energy is converted to heat. Thus, on an induction cooktop, the heat is coming not from the burner, but the pan itself. This can make for more efficient cooking–a pot of water will come to a boil on an induction stove in almost half the time of a standard gas stove. Induction surfaces cool off faster than a conventional burner, and are less likely to have hot spots in the pan, where food gets scorched due to contact with the heat source below.

The drawback is that only pans made from iron will work with induction stoves. Pans made of only copper or aluminum conduct electricity too well to generate significant heat. Cast-iron, stainless steel and pans made with layers of stainless steel all work. A rule of thumb-if a magnet will stick to it, you’re good to go.

Alongside Bosch’s refrigeration portfolio and dishwasher drying technologies, the new cooking innovations were on display at the 2019 International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas, NV, from Feb. 19-21, 2019.

“This is a monumental year for Bosch as we unveil new introductions across our kitchen portfolio, all designed to make everyday life a little easier, especially during mealtime,” said Anja Prescher, Director of Brand Marketing for Bosch home appliances. “Not only are we making it easier to store and preserve your favorite ingredients, but we’ve also found new ways to simplify the cooking process, and clean up afterwards, too. From start to finish, we’ve reimagined what it takes to craft the perfect meal, and we couldn’t be prouder of the industry-leading portfolio it has resulted in.”

While electric is certainly more energy-efficient than gas, induction is still the clear winner for efficiency. Stovetop or cooktop electric cooking allows only 65-70% of heat to reach food as opposed to induction’s 90%. This results in your kitchen staying cooler with induction than it does with electric cooking.

 

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