Science

SafeFlame torch turns water into fire

SafeFlame torch turns water in...
SafeFlame technology converts water into hydrogen and oxygen gas
SafeFlame technology converts water into hydrogen and oxygen gas
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Because SafeFlame produces the hydrogen and oxygen right at the point of use, no cylinders full of flammable gases are required
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Because SafeFlame produces the hydrogen and oxygen right at the point of use, no cylinders full of flammable gases are required
Because the temperature of the flame can be brought down to the lowest level necessary for the job at hand, burns are less of a danger
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Because the temperature of the flame can be brought down to the lowest level necessary for the job at hand, burns are less of a danger
SafeFlame technology converts water into hydrogen and oxygen gas
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SafeFlame technology converts water into hydrogen and oxygen gas
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The pressurized acetylene and propane gas used in brazing and related tasks is highly flammable, and thus very dangerous. You know what isn't flammable, though? Water. Bearing that in mind, the European Union-funded SafeFlame consortium has developed a torch system that generates a flame using nothing but H2O and electricity.

SafeFlame utilizes an electrical current to electrolyze ordinary water, separating it into hydrogen and oxygen gas. Those gases are then mixed and ignited as they exit the torch's nozzle. By fine-tuning the proportions of the two gases, different types of flames can be produced for different applications.

Additionally, the length and heat of the flame can be adjusted by varying the amount of power delivered to the electrolyzer.

Because SafeFlame produces the hydrogen and oxygen right at the point of use, no cylinders full of flammable gases are required
Because SafeFlame produces the hydrogen and oxygen right at the point of use, no cylinders full of flammable gases are required

Because SafeFlame produces the hydrogen and oxygen right at the point of use, no cylinders full of flammable gases are required. Not only does this make fires and explosions much less likely to occur, but it also means that users don't have to purchase such gases, pay for their transportation, or find a safe place to store them.

Additionally, because the temperature of the flame can be brought down to the lowest level necessary for the job at hand, burns are less of a danger – both to human users, and to sensitive metals that have a low melting point.

Prototype SafeFlame units are currently being tested at various locations in Europe, with a commercial rollout planned to take place "in the near future." There's no word on pricing, although the developers have reportedly found a way of reducing the amount of platinum required for the electrolyzer, in order to help keep costs down.

Source: SafeFlame via euronews

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29 comments
Simon Sammut
the obvious question, what is the efficiency of this thing in terms of energy in vs energy out as compared to conventional systems (taking into account all the energy needed for getting the gas into the bottles)? Also, in order to crack enough molecules to get the desired flame intensity, how much electricity is needed? Will you require a nuclear power plant???
Jeronimo
I'm more interested in their technique for reducing the cost of Pt in the electrolytic cell.
fenshwey
Pretty cool. I remember reading that there was some concern about transporting hydrogen on a massive scale to power cars (if hydrogen cars take off). This could be an ideal solution there, have the hydrogen stations generate the hydrogen on demand from water, and put a wind turbine/solar panels on top of them to provide the electricity to do so.
Jens Sigurdson
That is hardly news. The water welder must be close to a hundred years old invention by now...
Smitty Jl
Neat Idea - If this could be made to work economically it would be a boon for hobbyists and professionals alike.
Adrien
any time I ever saw electolysis with water, it quickly built up glunk on the electrodes. does that mean you need to use distilled water? Tap water has a heap of junk in it that would surely clog up that system
DLK811
Research "Brown's Gas" its been used for bonding and welding for years. It's my understanding that the exact ratio of oxygen to Hydrogen will create an implosion, resulting in over a 600 to 1 ratio contraction of the gas into water.
FabianC
is everybody here telling me that they have never even seen this guys youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QdEYUt4LL8 He has had this flame working for the better part of a year and uses it on a regular basis, check out his videos if you dont believe me.
Grunt
Isn't this what is generally known as "Brown's gas" and, as Jens Sigurdson says above, has been around for many years? It is even being used in cars as a supplement fuel supply, using an on-board gas generator, to reduce consumption. See your article: HH2 hydrogen technology purports to turn any gas-guzzler into a hybrid - dated 3 Dec 2009
Mzungu_Mkubwa
As many have already mentioned, this ain't nothin' new, *but* with recent research into advantageous catalysts & techniques that make the electrolysis reaction more efficient, isn't it about time we take this concept into a fully self-contained system? Cars running entirely on water are completely possible, basically by taking part of the energy produced at combustion to use for electrolysis and part for propulsion, right? Isn't it a matter of efficiency? There is enough energy in there, right? Or is the energy required for electrolysis roughly equal to that produced by combustion (or fuel cells or whatever)?