Hot Concepts For A Warm Planet

Created in 2008, the focus of the Prix Emile Hermes competition is to foster creativity in young designers by providing a theme as a starting point for a vital contribution to society. This year’s theme was (intriguingly enough) “Heat, Me-Heat, Re-Heat,” focusing on humanity’s need for heat at home, within the context of improved energy efficiency – a theme that was interpreted in unique ways by each of the three prize winners this year.

First Prize went to a concept design called Shelved Cooking [PDF] by Arnaud Le Cat, Esther Bacot and Luther Quenum, the founding members of Unqui Designs. Based on a traditional Norwegian cooking method that involves bringing stews and casseroles to a boil and then removing the heat source, allowing foods to cook slowly in the remaining heat in an insulated pot, this design makes use of two cylinders (one small, one large) set into a workbench mounted on trestles, each containing an induction hotplate. A cooking pot is placed inside the cylinder and brought to the boil, after which the hotplate is switched off, and the cylinder is sealed with insulation flaps made from compressed layers of boiled wool, survival blanket and cork. According to the designers, this simple system can save around 75 percent of the energy needed for a dish of beef bourguignon, or 45 percent of the energy used for a typical vegetable stew.

Shelved Cooking

image via Prix Emile Hermes

Second Prize went to H-Agent [PDF] by Andreas Meinhardt and Daniel Abendroth, an innovative, portable heating system capable of automatically capturing and storing excess heat to be re-diffused in cooler spaces, as detected by the device. Fitted with heat-seeking sensors designed to identify sources radiating excess heat and mounted on motorized wheels, H-Agent moves automatically around an interior space, guided by its infra-red sensors. Its black color and specialist material (PCM) allow it to detect and store heat to a maximum temperature of 26 C, above which it is rediffused by the PCM, in less well-heated areas. The high-tech device also recharges its own batteries via a solar charger.

The Third Prize went to Jarl Fernaeus’ Ecojoe Stove [PDF], which is aimed at helping those in developing nations heat food with less firewood. This simple, aesthetic stove, composed of insulating concrete with painted sheet steel sides, is based on the principle of the traditional wood-fired oven, but allows for improved combustion, reducing the amount of wood needed – and the volume of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere – by two-thirds.

More information on all three winners, as well as the competition’s honorable mentions, is available online.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.