Hi from Israel
My name is Les Saidel, I live in Israel and I am planning to start my own commercial bread baking business.
I read with great interest your set of plans for the Pompeii brick oven. I am interested in using a modified design of this plan to build a commercial oven for bread baking only, not pizza.
This oven would be "start fired" once a week (on a Saturday night) using a gas burner (the fire would be extinguished from Fri night to Sat night - on the Sabbath, for religious reasons) and would operate uninterrupted throughout the rest of the week. It would therefore need sufficient thermal mass to retain the heat with a minimum requirement in gas costs to keep this heat at the optimum baking level. Gas is very costly (wood even more so in Israel). I am thinking of implementing a computerized thermodynamics system to monitor oven temperature and modulate the burner automatically to maintain the optimum temperature with no manual intervention.
I am therefore asking for your recommendations as to what changes to implement in your simple (but masterful) design to -
a. operate with a gas burner instead of wood fire
b. meet the requirements of commercial bread baking in terms of thermal mass - how much to add and where and with what materials.
I am limited by the following constraint - a 1.7m X 1.7m square footprint (total exterior oven length and width). I am hoping I can obtain somewhere in the region of a 1.2m diameter baking surface (if that is possible) and still have enough space for sufficient insulation all around to all fit in the 1.7m
Since my height is not limited I was wondering if it is also possible to make the oven multilevel, i.e bake one two or more levels within the dome.
I would appreciate your expert advice in these matters and I hope to join your wonderful group and be (perhaps) the first to build your Pompeii oven in the Holy Land.
Re: Hi from Israel
Good luck on your project: it sounds fascinating. The key to thermal efficiency is insulation: The more insulation the better. Also, for your long non-burning period on the Sabbath, you will need extra thermal mass: perhaps floor bricks on their edge rather than flat, and some extra thermal mass on the dome. No matter how massive and well insulated, there will be some cooling off in this period.
A gas burner will need commercial safety controls. There is a tendency for gas to gather in the dome and achieve dangerous concentrations. If you are considering computer control to the burner, you no doubt have thought this through already. Our usual inquiry about gas burning is someone who wants to stick a barbeque propane burner in a home oven: We discourage this strongly.
Gas fired commercial bake ovens are a little out of our league generally. We would be pleased to hear about your progress and see pictures, though.
Re: Hi from Israel
You may want to consider reading the Alan Scott and Daniel Wing book, the bread builders.
It contains some general designs for a bread oriented high mass oven...
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