Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thermos Technology: Waste Not, Want Not!

A joule saved is a joule not generated!

Greens all over the world get very excited by big, high-tech projects, like this one which claims to convert North African sun into European electricity. It relies on thermos technology, among other things, such as huge amounts of desert land. 

I, for one, have more faith in the power of lower tech projects, like efforts to use thermos bottle technology to produce solar hot water heaters that work in cold places.  If you really get down to it, even solar powered water heaters can seem pretty complex.  Still, I think I understand them well enough, ever since that July I spent in Uttarakhand, producing enough warm water to bathe my children and myself by placing old water bottles, wrapped in a plastic bags, on a sheet metal roof. (Mrs. Batti, who came down with a nasty bug, rightfully got most of our small allotment of wood fire-warmed water.)

In fact, I think good old fashioned thermos technology is under-rated. I love to drink coffee and tea, but I don't like to drink it all at one time.  No, the best thing to do, is to have a lot of small cups.  Before I had a thermos, I had to re-heat my coffee over and over, and that was not very fun at all--besides, it wasted a lot of cooking gas and the coffee tasted burnt after a while. Then I got a nice thermos.  I can sip coffee all day long, if that's what I want to do!  

And while we're on the subject, what would we do without that roti warmer?  Yes, I know it's tastier to eat them hot and fresh, but our warmer, which uses thermos technology, gives us that little bit of extra flexibility we sometimes need.  No need to use an oven to keep things warm, or to have someone working in the kitchen while everyone eats; you can all sit down together! And it's not just for rotis--it works for idlis and pancakes and all kinds of things!

Thermos technology may be over one hundred years old, but it has a lot going for it! You see, it's almost always better to save energy than it is to figure out how to generate unnecessary energy.  I put that in italics, because it is so important.  In fact, I think I'll write it up nice and big and nail it to the wall of the Dhaba: Hari Batti's third law of thermodynamics or something like that...Yes, thermoses are the ultimate energy saving devices. They are time tested and eco-friendly--and they keeps things tasting good!  What more could you ask for?

Sometimes low tech is the best greentech; for more examples like this, check out this page.


  1. You are absolutely correct - simple is always better! I've been thinking along the same lines lately, looking for ideas to expand upon. Thanks for delivering a healthy dose of inspiration.

  2. @Thurman, Thanks for stopping by. Glad this is making sense!

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