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Induction unit with ZHAW battery wins prize after prize

The InductWarm® battery module is used to keep food warm. Now the innovative device is causing a sensation – with three awards in six months. ZHAW researchers have played a major role in this success.

A simple device that has it all: The InductWarm® battery module.

Milan, October 2019: At the HOST fair Gastros Switzerland presents its new InductWarm® battery module to the public for the first time. Although it is only a prototype, the device is immediately convincing and wins the SMART Label Award. The award rewards special innovations in the hospitality market and is awarded by an international jury of experts. As it turned out, the success at the HOST trade fair was just the beginning of a highflyer that has lasted until now.

It is the battery that does it

Central to the success of the InductWarm® battery module is the work of the ZHAW Institute of Energy Systems and Fluid Engineering (IEFE). As part of an Innosuisse project, Andreas Heinzelmann's Electrical Storage Systems and Power Electronics research group has developed a high-voltage battery system. "A high-voltage battery system consists of a circuit of many individual battery cells and additional components for controlling and monitoring the battery," explains Manuel Räber from the IEFE. Because Gastros Switzerland uses induction, the entire system is very energy efficient.

"In our battery system, several independent new developments play together", says Manuel Räber and specifies: "Individual modules such as the charger or the main control unit must function correctly, and the software must run flawlessly. If one of the components had not functioned as desired, the project as a whole would have been put at risk". Despite these challenges, the success of the battery module comes as no surprise to him: "It fills me with pride that the task was implemented in a technically clean way and that our work has led directly to a marketable device."

Better food thanks to induction

Up to now, high-voltage battery systems have been used primarily in electric mobility and stationary energy storage. Now, the InductWarm® battery module also offers an alternative to the solutions that have been common in the catering industry. It enables food to be kept warm independently of the power outlet. In addition, the temperature can be set to four different levels. While conventional counters and especially buffet counters must be permanently connected to the mains, the new battery system supplies the induction electronics of the battery module directly with direct current. This enables a high degree of efficiency.

The system voltage is within the safe range and the battery delivers an average of 300 watts for up to four hours at a weight of less than ten kilograms. This corresponds to a capacity of 1,300 watt hours. For comparison: an e-bike battery delivers a maximum of 500 watt hours at a weight of around three kilograms. The InductWarm® battery module thus has a lower energy density than e-bike batteries. But the IEFE development is superior to bicycle batteries in terms of maximum performance: The battery system delivers up to 800 watts – e-bike batteries are limited to 500.

The induction device, which is operated with the battery system, has further advantages over conventional methods: In contrast to common warming solutions, the InductWarm® battery module works without steam, which is gentle on the food. Colour, consistency and nutritional values are thus better preserved.

Two prizes in two months

In Germany, too, the InductWarm® battery module impressed the trade fair visitors. At the Intergastra trade fair in Stuttgart in February of this year, the battery module won the innovation prize in the kitchen technology category. Then in March, B&L-Mediengesellschaft, one of the country's most renowned gastronomy publishers, awarded the InductWarm® battery module the "NEXT of Market" prize in the non-food category.

The awards in pictures

The IEFE battery opens new possibilities

Gastros Switzerland has deliberately developed the module with the IEFE battery in a simple and compact design. It can thus be integrated into all types of mobile buffet systems. It is invisibly installed and can be combined with various covers. This allows flexibility in application and design. The invisibly installed technology offers further advantages: It facilitates the assembly and disassembly as well as the cleaning of the buffets. The fact that no more power cables and thus potential trip hazards are required also increases safety for all those involved – whether in the hotel, restaurant or catering industry.