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Text | Barbecuing with Hydrogen Gas | 001
Walt Pyle, John Dabritz, Reynaldo
Cortez, and Jim Healy
©1994 Walt Pyle, John Dabritz, Reynaldo Cortez, and Jim Healy
Barbecuing with hydrogen is cleaner than using charcoal or propane because there’s no
carbon in hydrogen. When hydrogen burns, it emits only water vapor and traces of nitrogen oxide. No toxic pollutants, smoke, or particulates are released by a hydrogen flame. When hydrogen is produced by renewable energy, the water–to-fuel–to–water cycle can be sustained virtually forever!
Above: By removing the cooking grill and lava rock support, you can see the stainless steel propane burner.
Above: The propane gas supply valves, burner, and pre-mix tubes, and pressure regulator.
The propane burner is ignited by turning on the gas and pressing the piezo-electric igniter button. A spark ignites the fuel-air mixture escaping from the burner. The flame heats lava rocks, distributing the heat to the grill. Liquids that drip onto the lava will vaporize and burn, shielding the burner from contamination. After cooking is finished, the gas is turned off and the heat stops. The lava cools quickly to ambient temperature.
Gaseous fuel is safer than charcoal in some respects. For instance, there’s no need to supervise the fire after cooking. You’re less likely to start a fire when a gust of wind comes up and rekindles “dead” coals! There’s also much less ash residue. Though propane flames emit carbon oxides and hydrocarbons, amounts are less than from charcoal. Better fuel-air mixing results in less smoke. Cooking time is also shorter with propane.
The propane flow to each burner is controlled by a valve and delivered to an orifice. The orifice limits the gas flow and produces a high velocity jet, which aids fuel-air mixing. The high velocity gas enters the pre- mixer, drawing air through ports on each side of the burner delivery tube.
Above: The propane gas barbecue before modification
For generations, barbecue fires have been made from charcoal. Though we also have natural gas and electricity for cooking, these resources are largely based on fossil fuels and are not sustainable. PV produced hydrogen is sustainable. (See HP #39 to see how
PV electrolysis is accomplished. Cooking with hydrogen also appeared in HP #33.) Air pollution from barbecues is becoming objectionable in densely populated areas. Outdoor cooking is very popular on hot summer days. Unfortunately, that’s also when air quality is usually at its worst. Legislation regulating barbecuing has even been enacted in some areas.
Propane barbecues are more convenient and produce less emissions than charcoal models. Propane also eliminates waiting while the coals get hot.
24 Home Power #43 • October / November 1994
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