The Caldera Heat Battery
By Dr. Simon Batchelor (Gamos Ltd.).
The Caldera Heat Battery Cooker introduces what I think is an as yet untried approach (although certainly Gamos discussed this back in 2013 and I can’t believe someone else hasn’t tried it? Do get in touch if you have tried it – both we and Caldera would be interested to learn from your experiences).
In December 2020, Caldera shared its prototype with MECS for comment. I used this in a UK household context but with the understanding that the core markets for the device are to be found in Low and Middle Income countries. Its main point of attraction is that it presents a new and very simple mechanism for energy storage to leverage and time shift modern energy. It can work with either weak delivery of national grid or time specific generation of power by renewables (such as Solar PV but the same would be true of micro hydro or wind) to deliver a cooking experience that can match the many different cultural demands of cooking while using completely safe materials that can be recycled at end of life. At the moment the insulation tends to make the prototype expensive but that is likely to reduce over time due to learning effects and manufacturing improvements. It can also be modular, and size adjusted for different household requirements.
The flexibility of the design is such that it can accommodate many different cooking styles. Obviously some cooking styles are more energy efficient than others. A stew made with the insulation cover over the pot will use the energy efficiently. However, we know that a lot of energy efficiency depends greatly on behaviour of the cook, and the culture of the cooking. As a first trial I decided to ‘be wasteful’ and go for Steak and double cooked chips! I followed the BBC recipe for the “best chips ever”. The charged Caldera was easily able to double cook two plates of chips and a steak, although I was slightly impatient on the chips, and still have energy the next morning for long simmered ‘Kenya’ chai and reheated chapatis. First impressions are very good.