A LLANELLI-BASED company is one step closer to starting production of an energy-efficient electrically powered cooking appliance.
Clyne Energy has secured funding to develop commercial prototypes of its LoCooker appliance. the company was set up last year by Ken Board, Emeritus professor at Swansea University’s School of Engineering, and his son Alun.
The LoCooker is designed for the growing sous vide market but has applications beyond in general cooking.
Sous vide is a technique that involves cooking food in a vacuum sealed bag placed in a water bath at below boiling point.
The technique is increasingly common in restaurant kitchens, but most devices use between 17 and 44 litres of water, which has to be heated but is then usually discarded.
Prof Board said: “the venture was prompted by the knowledge that only 10% of the energy used by a typical hob-based appliance goes into the food, while 90% of the energy is wasted each time food is prepared in this way.
“the wide-scale nature of the activity of preparing cooked food and the consequent global scope of the business opportunity were also factors that won us funding.”
The technology developed not only saves substantial amounts of energy but is designed to use relatively small quantities of water compared to that used on a conventional hob.
In addition the food prepared by the LoCooker has improved vitamin retention and will provide extra degrees of freedom for chefs at all levels.
“It also has a potential use to improve food quality in large volume catering establishments such as schools and hospitals,” Prof Board said.
“It has the advantage that it can be used for sous vide, as well as being used to cook vegetables and fish in the normal way.”
One major advantage of the LoCooker is its versatility. although designed for the sous vide market, the popularity of which is growing in this country, its applications are many.
“Our water here in Wales is ideally suited to the process but it’s the versatility that impresses people. It can be used for boiling an egg, a small amount of food for one person or a meal for four,” said Prof Board.
He added: “But the big thing is it can cook rice which means it has an application in the far East, and it can also tenderise meat and aid the marinade process.”
Clyne Energy has just been successful in securing a significant investment to take its Lo Cooker forward to the next stage of its development, having secured research and development funding from the Welsh Government.
“we demonstrated a cooking efficiency of greater than 50% with good prospects of taking this higher through further development,” Prof Board explained.
The company has also raised further finance through the Welsh Government as well as investment from private investors.
Prof Board said of the private investors: “these will bring a degree of experience and know-how over and above the investment they are providing.”
The LoCooker is expected to be on sale in retail outlets by late 2012.
Food writer and broadcaster Colin Pressdee has already undertaken extensive trials of the Lo-Cooker with positive results.
He said: “It is energy efficient and works well when used for delicate dishes involving seafood, vegetables, eggs and meat.
“This a flexible device which is ideal for the modern trends in cooking and has a place in the commercial and domestic markets.”