“See, I am a commerce graduate, I studied finance after graduation and I joined the Indian Revenue Service in 1999. Today, I work in thermodynamics and I have designed a gas fuel technology, which saves up to 70% fuel. That’s my achievement in the past decade,” Hari Rao laughs as I ask him what his biggest achievement till date has been.
Rao is an income-tax official by profession and a cooking enthusiast by passion. His love for cooking and Indian cuisine is what led him towards his journey of researching and improvising cook stoves.
For the past decade, he has been working on improvising and perfecting fuel stoves. His venture Agnisumukh has won many awards and accolades and by the way, even the chefs at Rashtrapati Bhavan have been using a cooking stove by Agnisumukh since October 2016! Rao and Agnisumukh’s journey goes back to 2006.
“I have always been interested in cooking! Even when I was working as an Income Tax officer, I have been experimenting with and improvising many recipes from Indian cuisine. It was in 2006 that I took it upon myself to standardise several recipes from Indian cuisine to take it truly global. I started with the Hyderabadi biryani, and eventually managed to standardise over 200 different recipes. It was around the same time that the cooking stoves attracted my attention,” recalls Rao.
While trying to standardise different recipes, Rao started to wonder about the cooking stoves that we use. After conducting thorough research on the technology used in gas fuel-based cooking stoves, he realised that there has been close to no research in gas fuel technology.
“Absolutely nobody is studying this. In India, LPG cylinders are used widely. Yet, for decades together we are using the same stoves. There has been no innovation, no effort to make these more efficient. Till date, there’s not a single engineering course in gas fuel science,” he says.
The realisation made Rao get involved in in-depth R&D and he ended up designing an innovative industrial stove that saves lakhs of rupees in operational costs as well as fuel.
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The very first variant of Agnisumukh, a venture that has now expanded and designs all kinds of cooking ranges from barbeque cooktops to industrial gas stoves, was a stove that promised to save more than 50% of fuel (LPG) in industrial kitchens. It was also a carbon- and smoke-free stove, which meant utensils could be cleaned with lesser soap and maintaining the kitchen became easier. The nutrition in food remains intact as the food is cooked through radiant cum convection heat rather than through burning.
Supriya Chellappan, a member of Rao’s team, used this stove in a kitchen at IT major Infosys’ Thiruvananthapuram office, serving nearly 1,000 people every day, which resulted in bringing down their cost of operations to a third. An article appeared in The Economic Times and many stakeholders became interested in Rao’s technology, including the Petroleum Ministry.
The stoves designed by Rao are equipped with ceramic burners, are smokeless and do not leave any residue while cooking. Because ceramic heats up and starts radiating on its own, uniform heat is created and to save fuel. These stoves are smokeless, noiseless and flameless.
The thermal efficiency of Agnisumukh burners under IS 14612 is at 69% when compared to conventional commercial burners whose efficiency is only 35 to 40%. Agnisumukh’s client list includes ITC Hotels, Infosys, Apollo Hospitals, Radisson Blu and Park Plaza.
“The stove has a ceramic burner that turns orange-red when it is switched on. The stove produces uniform heat like charcoal. The temperature of the heat produced can be controlled and a timer could be added for it to switch off after a time is pre-set for the stove. We have also managed to produce a horizontal thin flame in our stoves, which generates zero carbon soot,” he explains.
Agnisumukh has made waves not only in India but internationally as well. Agnisumukh not only works on LPG stoves, but also CNG, PNG and Bio-Methane stoves. Having managed to cut down fuel consumption by an impressive 70%, the stoves are proving to be a real boon for the environment.
“India has recorded 9 lakh deaths per annum due to carbon mono-oxide poisoning emitted from unclean cook stoves. By implementing our platform we would be decreasing carbon emissions by 10 million tonnes per annum, which is equivalent to 50% of India’s pledge to bring down the greenhouse gases by year 2020. That is equivalent to increasing the green cover by 45 crore trees,” Rao concludes.
To know more about Agnisumukh, visit the official website here.