By Keith R | December 14, 2006
Every year Electrolux Design Lab sponsors a competition aimed at producing greener appliances and accessories that are also stylish. In 2004 the winner was a waterless dishwasher, in 2005 a waterless washing machine. This year the theme was healthier lifestyles, and the first place winner was a multi-layered food carrier.
But we’re not going to talk here about the first or even second place winners in this year’s competition. No, if you want to read about them, visit Electrolux Design’s pages on the other finalists. Instead we’re going to focus on the third place winner submitted by Eduardo Altamirano, a graphic design student at Mexico’s Universidad La Salle.
The third place winner was a very special stove nicknamed the “Vessto.” According to the official Electrolux blurb on it:
is a sleekly-designed, portable cooker that uses renewable energy as a power source through an advanced version of the Stirling Engine. The concept uses heat from the stove to expand and contract small quantities of gas inside the appliance, which in turn power the product. The initial start-up of VESSTO, an anagram for “Stirling Stove,” only uses a small integrated battery until cooking points reach a high enough temperature to run the Stirling engine independently. VESSTO’s touch sensitive and digital control panel manages the four cooking points while also offering a screen displaying recipes, notes or other related cooking information that can be downloaded from the Web.
Don’t know what a Stirling Engine (also sometimes called the Stirling Motor) is? I didn’t. Look it up at Wikipedia. Fascinating reading. Evidently this is a very old technology that is just now getting its due.
What the press blurb omits is that Altamirano specifically picked and adapted the Stirling Engine concept not so much because he wanted to conserve energy or cut carbon emissions, but rather than to have a stove that could operate off the grid in areas that have no power hookups or intermittent power.
Altamirano says that Electrolux believes that the design can on the market and in home within 10 years, after some of its features have been fine-tuned and further tested.