May 30, 2023

Experts turn to electric heating for world’s fastest

Image credit: Kanthal

By E&T editorial staff

Published Thursday, May 21, 2020

Heating technology experts have developed an electric pizza oven that can bake a pizza in just 37 seconds – without compromising quality.

In order to achieve a cleaner, safer and quieter working environment, many industries have begun to upgrade their heating technologies, replacing their gas furnaces with electric alternatives.

While electric heating demonstrates clear benefits for applications such as aluminium and steel processing, experts at heating technology business Kanthal have found that this advanced technology used in a bespoke oven has helped obtain the record for the world’s fastest-cooked pizza.

In a typical home oven, a pizza will cook in around ten minutes at a temperature of 200°C. At a traditional pizzeria, a wood-fired oven can bake a Neapolitan pizza in as little as 90 seconds, at around 430°C. However, a wood-fired oven is typically heated once during the firing stage and temperature is difficult to control.

Kanthal’s pizza cooker uses infrared radiation to heat up the oven’s contents. The compact element design, often referred to as porcupine elements, makes it possible to pack a large amount of power into a small space.

According to Kanthal, the oven uses eight of these porcupine elements, which are made from iron-chromium-aluminium AF alloy the company has created, each running at a temperature of 900°C. The oven also features several reflectors to aid the even distribution of heat and ensure food is baked thoroughly.

The AF alloy is often used in electric heating elements in industrial furnaces and home appliances, such as in open mica elements for toasters, suspended coil elements in fan heaters and in coils on moulded ceramic fibre for cooking plates with ceramic hobs. In these settings, the alloy operates in temperatures up to 1300°C.

According to Oskar Montano, co-owner of Stockholm pizza restaurant 800°, while Kantha’s oven delivers an “unbeatable cooking time”, the taste of the pizza was equally important. To ensure this was a success, Montano, who is also a Neapolitan pizza specialist, collaborated with Kanthal R&D engineer Björn Holmstedt to test the oven in a laboratory.

“I always enjoy a challenge and, knowing that heat plays such a crucial part in pizza making, I saw this experiment as a perfect match for Kanthal,” Holmstedt explained. “Because our heating technology can produce heat up to 1850°C, hitting a high temperature wasn’t an issue. However, pizza making is a precise craft that requires care to get the perfect crust, so we needed to take full advantage of our technology to provide a high temperature that we could easily control.”

Björn built the oven in Kanthal’s factory in Hallstahammar, Sweden, where he used the eight porcupine elements in the iron-chromium-aluminium Kanthal AF alloy, four in the upper part and four in the lower part of the oven, some reflectors, glass plates and cables. The oven uses electromagnetic radiation to heat up the object it helps: the pizza in this case.

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