Experiencing Technical Difficulties (resonant) wrote,
Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Product idea: Self-stirring pot

If you attach different metals together (copper and iron, for example), and heat different portions to different temperatures, you get a voltage difference. This is the thermoelectric effect.


For Christmas, I got my dad a PowerPot. It is a regular cooking pot, but with a thermoelectric plate welded to the bottom. When you're using a cooking pot, the inside is never more than 100 degrees C (until it boils dry), while the bottom is much hotter, at the temperature of your fire or stove burner. This is ideal for applying the thermoelectric effect. So, when you are using the pot to cook something, it is also generating a small amount of electricity, about 10 watts. It's enough to run a bright USB LED light, or to charge a cellphone or other electronic device - convenient when the power goes out, or if you're camping. It has no moving parts, is silent, and has nothing to wear out. It takes a little longer to cook things, but not enough to matter.


At work, we don't stir chemicals with a spoon to mix them. That would expose people to the fumes, splash chemicals around, and be messy to clean up. We just drop a Teflon-coated magnet into the container, close the lid, and put the container on a magnetic stir plate. Magnetic coils in the plate turn on and off, causing the magnet in the container to spin. The chemicals are safely mixed in an airtight, sealed container, with no human effort. The smooth magnet is easier to clean than the beaters of an overhead mixer, and there's no risk of leaks around the blade shaft, as with a blender. It doesn't use much power, only 1-2 watts.


So, what if you combined the two? Imagine a cooking pot with a thick bottom, containing a thermoelectric plate hooked to some coils. When you cook something, the pot automatically generates a small, oscillating magnetic field. You then drop in a magnetic stirring bar. As long as the pot is being heated, the magnet inside will spin around and stir the contents. No more worries about your soup scorching, and you can spend your time doing other kitchen prep work instead of standing over a hot stove with a stirring spoon. Cleanup would be no harder than cleaning a standard pot and spoon. The contents would keep stirring even if the lid was on. Leaving the lid on would allow your soup to heat and cook faster, and you'd save energy.

If the price was reasonable, do you think people would buy this?
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