Monday, August 23, 2010

Engine Cooking

I once had a dream in which I was taking a number of bizarre, illogical classes. Psychologists would probably blame this on me worrying about my schooling as I fell asleep. Anyway, most of them were stupid, impossible, or both. But one of them strikes me as potentially useful in the real world. It was called "Engine cooking."
In it, we would take a metal mold, fill it with ingredients, stash the mold in the engine compartment of a car, and then go drive around a bunch, then afterwards, we'd retrieve the mold, open it, and note the condition of the food. In the dream, you had to produce not just edible, but good looking food too. No one wants to eat a flat suffle, after all.
This is a potentially useful idea, because engines make a lot of heat. Heat that we currently discard into the atmosphere. Cooking, meanwhile, requires a controlled application of heat. Why not feed one into the other? Especially if you're driving somewhere where you'll need food on the other end, like a party. Bake your driving there.
Well, the biggest objections would be that engines are full of things that you don't want in your food, like dirt, sludge, motor oil, and insects. Heat transfer isn't ideal without doing something crazy like running the coolant through pipes on the outmost layer of the mold, which would make removal difficult. Also, engines might be hot, but the heat is quite uneven. Food needs to be evenly heated, or you'll have one raw side and one burnt side, neither of which is edible.
So, probably not practical in the real world, where things like physics and chemistry and basic logic apply.


TwoYaks said...

You'd be wrong about you being wrong. The invention exists, albeit in slightly modified form. I've seen doodads for putting food warmers on auto engines, and in snowmachines, there's something called a "Hot Dogger" for cooking food from your engine heat. Great for having a snack after a long day on the trail. I just judiciously ducttape a closed container to my snowmachine's cowling and usually that works pretty well too. :)

themadengineer said...

Would it function as a second radiator? That would be the best. Also, it makes me feel a little less insane about thinking about things like this.

TwoYaks said...

I don't see why it wouldn't... it increases the surface area. Though, honestly, since either products are under the cowling, the major issue is more airflow than surface area. (I say as a non-automotive engineer)

The Chinese guy said...

Bikers (inc me) have been doing this for ages.

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