Creating a Suite of High-Efficiency Natural Gas Commercial Equipment and Foodservice Appliances

Restaurants and institutional foodservice is a $550 billion industry that relies heavily on natural gas. Working with gas industry partners, the California Energy Commission, and others, GTI is developing technology for the commercial foodservice market, creating a suite of higher-efficiency natural gas appliances for commercial kitchens, including fryers, ovens, ranges, broilers, steamers, and other important kitchen equipment.

Research efforts are looking at improved cooking performance, efficiency, cost, and emissions. Our demonstration initiatives include whole kitchen assessments, in-restaurant performance evaluations, and energy and cost analysis.

Technology innovations to improve efficiency are exploring new burner materials such as metal mesh and metal foam for replacing standard drilled or punched port burners.

Researchers are also looking at converting standard atmospheric burners to power burners for better control of air to fuel ratios and improved efficiency and emissions.

Water conservation is another important area we are working in. In a California initiative, we are testing low-flow rinse valves for more efficient use of water in dish machine cleaning and rinsing. We are also testing more efficient and better insulated burner designs in a wok to eliminate the need for cooling water.

Frontier Energy, a GTII subsidiary, is a professional services firm with deep expertise in commercial kitchen energy efficiency and appliance performance testing.

Results from demonstrations of high-efficiency commercial cooking equipment are showing sig­nificant savings. Gate Gourmet, an airline catering provider, experienced 24% gas savings for their kitchen, largely due to replacement of their steam kettles with Energy Star double compartment steamers. Werewolf Bar & Grill experienced 7% gas and 24% electric savings for their entire cook line and was able to increase their production capacity. Their newly installed optimized kitchen ventilation system is being assessed with estimated 30–50% additional savings.

Frontier Energy operates the PG&E Food Service Technology Center (FSTC), a fuel-neutral scientific testing facility. Under the FSTC program, Frontier Energy has developed over 40 standard test methods (STMs), impacted energy efficiency codes and standards, produced appliance reports and documentation, conducted training and education seminars, and provided site surveys and audits for the commercial foodservice industry.

Frontier Energy also provides many of these services for other utilities, restaurant operators, equipment manufacturers, and energy efficiency service providers throughout North America.

In a kitchen equipment retrofit project, funded by the California Energy Commis­sion, the FSTC teamed up with SoCal­Gas and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) to determine energy savings potential, cost effectiveness, and cooking performance compared to baseline equipment.

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