Shopping? Check out our latest product comparisons

SafeFlame torch turns water into fire

By

November 5, 2013

SafeFlame technology converts water into hydrogen and oxygen gas

SafeFlame technology converts water into hydrogen and oxygen gas

Image Gallery (3 images)

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...

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

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
Tags
29 Comments

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???

Simon Sammut
5th November, 2013 @ 04:18 pm PST

I'm more interested in their technique for reducing the cost of Pt in the electrolytic cell.

Daniel Brown
5th November, 2013 @ 04:43 pm PST

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.

fenshwey
5th November, 2013 @ 05:12 pm PST

That is hardly news. The water welder must be close to a hundred years old invention by now...

Jens Sigurdson
5th November, 2013 @ 05:21 pm PST

Neat Idea - If this could be made to work economically it would be a boon for hobbyists and professionals alike.

Smitty Jl
5th November, 2013 @ 06:02 pm PST

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

Adrien
5th November, 2013 @ 07:30 pm PST

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.

DLK811
5th November, 2013 @ 11:17 pm PST

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.

FabianC
6th November, 2013 @ 01:52 am PST

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

Grunt
6th November, 2013 @ 03:14 am PST

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)?

MzunguMkubwa
6th November, 2013 @ 05:13 am PST

This process, at least a simpler version was being used in Jewellery workshops 30 years ago. The only issue then was that it was difficult to see the flame, l hope that has been overcome by now.

As for the amount of electricity required, that was minimal so need not be an issue.

Eric Brackenbury
6th November, 2013 @ 05:40 am PST

Yes, we had this equipment in our labs over 40 years ago too. We used a hypodermic needle for a torch head. Yes, there were problems with the tip burning off when the production of gas fell off due to fluctuating power levels. But this does not appear to be the story here. It seems this company has found a way to control the flame better. Something we did not have with our equipment.

Grumpyrelic
6th November, 2013 @ 06:43 am PST

Creating the component gasses is the interesting part. The explosion risk is overblown (no pun intended) and the fire risk remains. The real danger is in setting the wall on fire.

rik.warren
6th November, 2013 @ 08:11 am PST

I wonder if the system would be a little more efficient if they used electricity to preheat (similar to a heatgun) the O and H to about 300+? (depends on how corrosive O is as it heats and the type of material used in the preheater) degrees. Then energy from combustion wouldn't be needed for that heat increase. Plus it would be nice if they had small, relatively low pressure tanks to store the O and H, so you could get bursts of higher energy flame without increasing the capacity of the system. It would be a small trade off of absolute safety for efficiency.

Mike Kling
6th November, 2013 @ 08:41 am PST

Hm. I'm betting only purified water can be used without gumming up the works.

I wonder what the difference will be in costs of this vs. a normal system, both at point of purchase and when considering the materials cost utilized over the expected lifetime of the product.

dandrews1138
6th November, 2013 @ 08:47 am PST

1) Google "Water torch" its already a commercial product.

2) Google Stanley Meyers for information on low power electrolysis of water without catalysts.

I'm glad to see someone else finally picking up the torch..as they say.. and developing the technology.

David Richardson
6th November, 2013 @ 09:14 am PST

Good to see Brown's Gas (aka HHO) hitting 'major' media.

This IS a badly needed technology, having MANY useful applications.

I have been manufacturing and selling commercial sized Brown's Gas electrolyzers around the world since 1996.

My machines are very manufacturable, easy to maintain, user-friendly, use NO platinum and generate BG with near 100% Faraday efficiency (they don't even require a cooling fan). I use less than 2 watthours per SPT liter of gas generated.

Further, I sell 'Brown's Gas Book 2' (as an eBook) that has full plans to build your own electrolyzer. User-built electrolyzers are still working after 20 years.

George Wiseman
6th November, 2013 @ 09:23 am PST

Let's be very clear nature offers no free lunch.

More energy goes into separating O2 and H2 from water then is ever recoverable by chemically burning the gases.

The exception is the process produces heavy hydrogen or deuterium which may be burned in nuclear fusion to produce 1000's of times more energy then is used to create this heavy hydrogen. Don't hold your breathe for the Mr. Fusion engine that can burn deuterium.

attoman
6th November, 2013 @ 09:26 am PST

There is a large group of people that are VERY happy to see the EU 'open the door' for this hydrogen technology --- lending their prestige, to something we've been doing for YEARS..! NONE of this is "News".

Welcome to the 'World of W4G", ('Water For Gas', turning most ANY vehicle into a hybrid). Also known as "HOD" ('Hydrogen On Demand'), used in our cars, Trucks, boats, motorcycles --- heating our homes and cooking our food. Perhaps NOW, ... Everyone will jump on the bandwagon. "The WORD" is out --- and can no longer be suppressed..!

BobCapataz
6th November, 2013 @ 09:59 am PST

The real news is that the EU admits that it is massively subsidizing industry.

Next they'll claim that it reduces C02 production.

Slowburn
6th November, 2013 @ 10:45 am PST

So using oil to run our machines requires less energy to produce than this method? There's the cost of drilling, transporting and refining it. And as far as I'm concerned its a dirty and poisonous process.

This process is much cleaner. And theoretically, should be limitless. The only problem that I might have with it is the fact that water vapor (the byproduct) is supposedly just as bad of a greenhouse gas.

Snatr
6th November, 2013 @ 11:05 am PST

The number that's important is the stoichiometric ratio of hydrogen and air, or air:fuel ratio.

The common misconception about systems that electrolyze water to produce hydrogen to burn in an internal combustion engine is that only the oxygen and hydrogen from the water will be used.

For an air:hydrogen engine the ratio is 34.3:1 by mass. For every unit of mass of hydrogen, for ideal combustion it takes 34.3 units of air. Not oxygen, AIR. Air is around 70% nitrogen and 20% oxygen.

The non-oxygen gasses in air get heated and expand, which is where most of the useful work of an internal combustion engine comes from rather than from the fuel reacting with the oxygen.

The non-oxygen gasses in air act as a "working fluid", similar to how it works in external combustion hot air engines. The process is more efficient burning the fuel in the air in the engine instead of burning the fuel outside the engine to heat air (or other gasses or liquids like water) inside the engine.

With internal combustion, the expansive force of the burning fuel vapor combines with the expansive force of the non-oxygen components of air. That's why steam engines and any sort of Sterling or other external heat engine failed to become the most common form of vehicle power source.

If you've seen that Mythbusters episode where they built an electrolysis device to try running a car on... there's a few problems with how they did it. First off was the device wasn't going to produce enough hydrogen anyway. But then they deliberately went about it in a way to ensure it wouldn't work even if the device had been capable of producing enough hydrogen. They completely sealed the top of the carb and only had a small hose connected, only allowing the hydrogen and oxygen from the water into the engine.

A large V8 like that pulls in hundreds of cubic feet of air per minute. Quite impossible to provide that kind of flow through a 1/4" hose.

Gregg Eshelman
6th November, 2013 @ 03:15 pm PST

Nice to see George Wiseman getting some vindication. Epoch Energy from Taiwan deserve some focus as well:

http://www.oxy-hydrogen.com/

Joe Shea has done wonders promoting hydroxy boost in autos at www.HHOgames.com in Florida.

Understanding why platinum is such a good catalyst will allow nanotech to use cheaper material for electrolyzing the water.

It's platinum's atomic geometry which makes it so special. Read up on Dr. Robert Moon and some research into www.FractalField.com is worth your time.

Darren Walker
6th November, 2013 @ 04:43 pm PST

an article full of marketing bs and comments full of conspiracy theory free energy bs. ugh.

Michael Andrew Broughton
6th November, 2013 @ 10:48 pm PST

So can you still scorch Creme Brulee with this torch?

Max Mocchi
7th November, 2013 @ 01:35 am PST

Also not clear: how often do you need to replace the platinum catalyst.

Otherwise it sounds like a decent idea.

limbodog
7th November, 2013 @ 08:04 am PST

Dragging the generator around to make sure I have power sound like a bigger pain than the gas tanks.

Slowburn
7th November, 2013 @ 11:58 am PST

Actually this hydrogen torch is different and quite advanced. First it reuses the O2 which most hydrogen torches do not. Secondly it has variable gas production built in. Most are either off or on and some have tanks to hold the newly liberated gases. That variable feed is a huge development. Obviously it uses more electric than the gas energy produced. But when you consider the energy required to develop and compress and the large, heavy trucks that deliver other welding gas this is winner. Also hydrogen can do things that other gases can not such as a cracked ice finish of acrylics.

Jim Sadler
12th November, 2013 @ 03:47 pm PST

This gas is called Brown's Gas after Mr. Yull Brown, who is actually the renamed Bulgarian physicist Iliya Vulkov, born 1925 in Varna, Bulgaria, who escaped from Bulgaria to Australia and changed his name. He researched the gas mixture of hydrogen and oxygen, produced during the electrolysis process, and patented in USA his welding generator in 1974. First patent is in Australia. Then he established in 1991 the BEST Australia Company and produced the first industrial generators, with the Korean scientist Kim Sang Yang, who after the Yull Brown's death renamed his company to B.E.S.T Korea, www.browngas.com, which is the world's biggest producer and seller today of Brown Gas Generators for welding, heating, waste burning, (incl, Radioactive wastes), etc., alongside with several more companies as Oweld - www.oweld.com, Eagle-Research, ZAOVEMZ - Russia - www.zaovemz.ru, Taiwan - www.oxy-hydrogen.com.tw, etc.

This gas has several unique properties.

It reaches extremely high temperatures of heating different materials up to the melting point of each material. We have melted and evaporated tungsten and other high temperature materials, we have welded together a steel rod to a refractory brick, which is impossible to be done by other gases, we have cut hard steels, stones and refractory materials and we have seen this effects personally in our laboratory. . There are lots of videos in the net of all these experiments.

Regardless of it's high heating ability, this gas's own flame temperature is extremely low - only 137 degrees Celsius. That's why some scientists call it "cold plasma".

The most commented question related with this gas is the electrolysis efficiency. Is this process effective, or can you produce more energy burning the gas, than you've applied electrical energy to produce the gas ?

All discussions upon this point start and rest on the Faraday laws, stated 200 years ago.

However, today's situation is quite different.

Every day lots of discoveries are been made.

The modern electrolysis process uses new hi-tech methods for activating the water for easier brake of it's molecule, as magnetic, photon, laser, vibration, chemical-catalyst, etc., quite different than the simple immersing two electrodes in a cup of water with a little potassium in it, which actually Faraday have had done, and have used as a base to formulate his famous laws.

So, many people, which science horizon ends to the high school physics textbook, insist that physics laws are unbreakable, which is true. Anyway, nobody is going to break the laws.

There are lots of circumstances to be considered, when you want to obtain a higher efficiency of the electrolysis process.

For example, being the smallest atom in the universe, hydrogen easily passes through almost all known materials. It's a lot of fun when I see generators with pipes coming out, and rubber hoses slipped on, and tightened with clamps. It is enough to put some luminophore in your electrolyser to see that most of your hydrogen produced, flies out in the air through all these hose connections, flanges, bolts, etc.

There are many more obstacles to be fixed too, if you want to reach a high efficiency, and all these fixings cost money. But if you do all them properly, you can produce one litre of Brown's gas with less than 1 Watt power. Depending on the specific material heated, Brown's gas heat energy output could reach 4-5 Watts per litre. Exchanging and utilizing this heat is other story.

Hydroad
12th November, 2013 @ 04:11 pm PST
Post a Comment

Login with your gizmag account:

Or Login with Facebook:


Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our 27,810 articles