Friday, May 31, 2013

The Pan.

A proposal for a wok or saute pan suitable for use in zero gravity. 
As a person who finds the preparation of food as important as the consumption of food I find the current state of reheated and or rehydrated astronaut food depressing.   When the on orbit population regularly exceeds 6 people there will be a greater demand for basic kitchen tools.  

By way of a kitchen, a compartment similar to a glove box in size could be installed. A combination of either sticky strips or a fine mesh with suction could be employed to secure the food and keep it from drifting into the cabin.  A food processor or an modified slap chop would out perform a kitchen knife for preparation.  

The pan, would be heated with induction as that is safe and efficient. The pan bottom would have two layers.  The outer layer would be solid and contain the induction hardware.  A vacuum line would connect to the outer pan, this would provide suction. The vacuum line would have a collector and a filter to extract any food or juices that enter it. 

The inner pan would be a dense stainless steel mesh smooth, similar to an air hockey table.   The intent is to allow the low pressure between the pans to allow the food to cling to the surface of the inner pan.  This design would be strongly sensitive to the volume of food in it. Overfill the pan and the extra food does not receive adequate suction and will drift around the pan. 

Two potential solutions exist for that problem.  The simple solution, since the pan will need a lid a moderately power fan can be installed in the lid ensuring a down force.  

Complementary to this is the larger format wok.  Here again suction is applied between the inner and outer pans, but the inner pan is induced to spin.  The centripetal force from the spinning inner pan works with the suction to allow a larger volume of food to be cooked at once.  

Depending on the complexity of the kitchen and the mechanics of the cookware there might be value on isolating the station from kitchen related vibrations.  

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