Swedish steel prize nominee 2013
2013 | Condeco Technologies AG | Switzerland 6 min read
Better heating, lower energy consumption and more even heat. The Swiss innovation company Condeco presents a solution for cookware that may provide significantly improved pots and pans in the future. The key to the improved performance is a heat-resistant and heat-conductive steel. New production technology is definitely novelty in cookware industry.
One of the world's most heat-resistant steels is central to Condeco's new solution. The steel can handle very high temperatures without the design being affected, while also having good thermal conductivity. These properties, together with an absolute flatness of the material supplied, was crucial to the innovator, energy expert and founder of Condeco, Dusko Maravic, when looking for the material needed to realize the concept of a more energy efficient pan, particularly with/by radiant heated stove.
Inefficient technology aroused interestWith his knowledge of physics and energy, Dusko Maravic was quick to realise that the new induction technology used for cooking stoves was not being fully utilized.
"Today's induction hobs place higher demands on cookware to function optimally," he explained, pointing to something that looks like a stainless steel LP record, approximately four millimetres thick. The disc has a completely flat surface and lies as close to the cooking surface as possible. This is also the case with many pans on the market when they first arrive home from the store, but after a short time this flatness is affected adversely by the heat. When the base shape changes, the heating process is compromised and energy consumption rises owing to poor contact.
Once he had started to take an interest in the issue, Dusko Maravic also realised that heat conduction and distribution of heat inside the pan itself could be improved, which is important to the efficiency of food preparation.
A material that met the requirementsClose contact surface, better thermal conductivity and better heat resistance became the three essential qualities he was looking for.
"The Internet provides great search capabilities, and pretty soon I found a tool steel that seemed to fit my requirements," he continued. “Steel was the only possible option and TOOLOX exhibited characteristics that no other steel could match. This can be heated to very high temperatures without altering in form or strength, which means that our solution can guarantee flatness even if you were to forget the pan on full heat on the stove for several hours.
The production solution is a part of the overall pictureOnce the right materials were at hand what remained was the question of a functioning production.
"The aim has always been to provide a complete solution and produce pots and pans for a wide audience for use with all stoves available, whether induction, convection or gas," continued Durko Maravic. “This meant they must not weigh too much, but remain affordable.”
Condeco solved this together with the German company Sitec in the city of Chemnitz. By laser welding together two thin circular discs of stainless steel with a smaller circular, four millimetre thick disc of TOOLOX, an effective production solution has been obtained for intermediate goods used by producers of cookware.
"We laser weld to a depth of only a part of millimetre and add a whole blanket of small welds which cover the entire section. This forms the base of the finished pan," explained Andreas Müller-Mehnert, Sales/ Production Manager at Sitec. “We can avoid the heat treatment otherwise used and reduce production time considerably as a result.”
Further advantagesCondeco has started delivering to various manufacturers of cookware, and new agreements are in the pipeline. The first pans with these improved properties are already out on the market and Dusko Maravic is optimistic.
"The advantages are sufficiently remarkable to alter a system within an area many assumed to be fully developed. This will bring about a considerable impact,’ he said. “And we have found other positive effects from these improved properties. Induction heating causes a magnetic field during cooking and at full power a humming sound occurs. Some people find this irritating. With our solution, the magnetic field becomes significantly smaller, extending only a few inches from the pan. The humming sound is completely eliminated, thanks to the magnetic characteristics of Toolox.”
Condeco's and Dusko Maravics innovative solution has attracted attention throughout the world. Many requests for guest lectures have materialised and the solution has been nominated for the construction prize; the Swedish Steel Prize, awarded in November in Stockholm.