Scientists have invented a new low-cost method to create a safe welding flame using water as its only fuel. Called the Safeflame, the device splits water in oxygen and hydrogen, recombining them both outside of the torch's mouth to create fire. And the only byproduct is water.
In the past, this method was too pricey for wide adoption. The success of the Safeflame is that they have managed to make it a lot cheaper and also safer than traditional propane and acetylene torches, according to Andrew Ellis, one of the Safeflame researchers:
We've got a whole team of chemists working on new formulations of membrane, which have shown increases in the performance of the electrolyzer. We've also been doing lots of research on catalysts, trying to reduce the amount of platinum and looking into much cheaper materials that can be used in the cells. And this research has led to big reduction in the cost of electrolyzer systems.
Talking to Euronews, Ellis said that the new system has been "developed to use a standard mains electricity supply, and water. The water is split into hydrogen and oxygen gases and fed into a torch where a flame is produced, which can then be used for brazing or any other industrial application where flame is used. So it's just using water to make a flame, basically."
What's more, the torch itself remains cold to the touch at all times because, according to the Ellis, "the flame, as it's being produced, burns on the outside of the torch. And when you turn the flame off at the [end] of operation, the torch will also remain cold afterwards, so you can put it down anywhere you want." In the video you can see the guy touching the torch's tip even while it is in operation.