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Published on November 26th, 2013 | Edited by: Jim Destefani0
Engineered plates, mugs keep foods, beverages hotPublished on November 26th, 2013 | Edited by: Jim Destefani
Cross section through HotSmart plate shows core of microwave susceptor material and joint design. (Credit: J.J. Ramirez/HotSmart USA.)
As the US heads toward the Thanksgiving holiday, it seems appropriate to explore ways to keep our food warmer, longer. After all, the traditional Thanksgiving feast of turkey and all the trimmings has become the centerpiece of the day for many. (Along with, in many households, football.)
Enter Juan J. Ramirez. A former industrial engineer, Ramirez invented and patented a unique stay-hot dinnerware technology after losing his long-time job and suffering some health issues. “The idea came after I suffered a stroke and brain tumor surgery,” he explains in an email. “Well, the idea did not come because of the stroke, but because I lost my career of many years in manufacturing and I found myself unemployed and with lots of time available.”
Ramirez used that time to develop a line of dinnerware that, after only a minute in the microwave oven, will keep food in the center of the plate hot for more than 30 minutes. The rim of the plate, meanwhile, remains cool to the touch to minimize the chance of accidental burns.
Ramirez says HotSmart plates can be made using practically any ceramic material, from whiteware to bone china, and that “anybody making plates” would know the details of firing time and temperature. The trick is in the plates’ core of susceptor material, which absorbs microwave radiation and then releases the heat in a controlled manner. “It was about time the ceramic plate learned a few new tricks,” he jokes in the email, while the product’s website calls the patented technology “the only functional change to the ceramic plate in centuries.”
According to Ramirez, the microwave susceptor material is red earthenware with an addition of iron filings. “Red earthenware already contains iron oxide, which is a polar molecule,” he explains. The material absorbs microwave radiation, then releases it as heat in a controlled manner according to the Stefan-Boltzmann law, the product website says. (The photo above, credit J.J. Ramirez/HotSmart USA, shows the susceptor material and the top and bottom halves of a plate.)
Plate tops and bottoms are produced separately, then joined using an unspecified adhesive with the susceptor material sandwiched inside. According to Ramirez, any shrinkage or warpage that might result from firing is addressed by the plates’ design, which uses a conical joint. The product website says the design has proved durable in months of cycling between microwave and dishwasher.
Although they are not yet being mass produced, the plates and mugs are being marketed on Amazon. Ramirez says the products have “been received very well.” The plates have also been featured as a “Reader Invention of the Month” in Popular Science magazine.
According to the website, the dinnerware’s ability to keep food hot for extended periods of time may even offer health benefits for diabetics, bariatric surgery patients who must eat slowly, people trying to lose weight, and others who simply want to practice “mindful eating,” a way to reduce overeating that makes a practice of slow, deliberate dining. The website also calls HotSmart plates “the most hygienic plate in history,” because they lack the unglazed dry foot found in most dinnerware that “can absorb moisture and become a breeding ground for bacteria.”
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